Monday, March 27, 2023
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Interview: Jed Norgrove talks pushing for Esports race seat and incredible levels of preparation

Recently, Give Me Sport paid visit to Oracle Red Bull Racing’s Esports team at Red Bull Racing HQ in Milton Keynes.
As the reigning double world Formula 1 champions, success is strived for in everything they do and that is no different when it comes to their Esports division, with Jed Norgrove part of the team and looking to push into a permanent race seat in the near future.
We sat down with Jed to discuss how he got into sim racing, what the demands are like to be one of the best virtual drivers in the world, and how he’s he’s aiming to get a full-time drive within the F1 Esports set-up…
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Jed, first up, we want to ask you about how you balance practicing at home and coming into the Red Bull factory as well
“So I’m from Shropshire and it’s roughly a two-hour drive or so. Mainly I just practice at home but it’s pretty cool to come down to the factory for events. Last year, I was down here for the final F1 Esports event and it was really good to see how the guys work and fight and obviously to be in a facility like this pretty cool. If you just look out the window here at the real-life F1 cars, it’s pretty, pretty mad. It’s really good experience on the race days as well to be here to see everything work and obviously, my aim one day is to be in that situation.”
How much practice would you say you do in a day?
“When we’re doing F1 Esports, we usually do two three-hour sessions. And then some of the guys might do a couple more hours in the evening, some nights. So it depends on how the day goes really. You have good and bad days. There’s a lot of practice involved because obviously we want to be the best and be successful. We’ve got a lot of dedication because we want to win and be successful for the team.”
At what point did you realise you were good at F1 games?
“So I’ve been interested in racing since a young age and I started playing the games when I was really young. The first one I started playing on was on a Nintendo Wii. I started learning and I won my first competition when I was 11. I went to the Belgian Grand Prix, and there was this arena there and I think about 1200 adults over the weekend went on this sim, and I was 11 and I went and won it, which is pretty, pretty mad.
“So I think I’d say then was when I realised that perhaps I can make something out of this. After that, I kept working hard and then obviously, the last two years, I made it to the final 28 drivers in the world in the F1 Esports qualifying stage, and then obviously after the second time I got signed by Red Bull. I’d say going back to when I was 11, that was when I first realised that there was potential there.”
How did you find moving from a console like the Nintendo Wii to the proper set-up you have now with a wheel and pedals?
“Obviously being on the Nintendo Wii, you don’t have the pedals and you just have the remote controls so it’s quite strange. I think once on there, though, you get to sort of feel the cars and stuff and I don’t think you ever really lose that. I went to Xbox and then PC so that’s when I got my first wheel and pedals in 2010 or 11.
“Once you get the feel for the wheel and the pedals you never really lose that feel of the car and when you get like an oversteer moment you know what to do. I started obviously getting like a rig and a better setup with force feedback and then joining Red Bull you get even better equipped. The better equipment you get the more you feel with the car and the more information you get.”
How did the first contact with Red Bull and joining the team happen?
“I won an Esports competition and so after that I just emailed a couple of teams, and I got a reply off of Red Bull and the team manager, and he said he was interested in my story. They guided me on the qualifying route to get to the final 20 in the world. And I did that for two years and then got offered this opportunity. It’s been a pretty mad few years.”
Do you think people realise how much effort goes into this not just from yourself, but from engineers and people like that around the Esports team?
“We work a lot on the fitness side of it and the amount of engineers we have here working with us on data, stuff like that, it really shows how big Esports is and is continuing to grow. I think from the outside, you see people who don’t really know the series at all, they just see racing on the game, but I think if you brought them into here and show them how much preparation we put into it, how many hours, how much dedication, hard work, the fitness work with personal trainers, I think they’d realise how much we prepare.”
What are your hopes and plans for this year?
“The aim is to get a Red Bull or AlphaTauri Esports seat, one of them would be really good. We’re going to continue to work hard, and hopefully be successful.”
Could getting into a real racing car ever be an aim for you?
“The main aim at the minute is to be successful here. That’s the aim. But then you see what Sebastian [Job] is doing and you see there are opportunities there to perhaps go and do stuff like that with the race team. I think Red Bull is probably the best team to be at if you wanted a real life racing opportunity.
“They’ve given younger drivers lots of support over the years and I think if they see you’ve got the talent, they’ll back you. At the minute I’m focused on the Esports team, because obviously they have supported me a lot, but I think like if there was ever an opportunity that it’s definitely something I’d be interested in. You just look at the real-life cars and think what it would be like to drive them.”
And obviously some of the drivers in F1 and similar are really into their sim racing, showing how credible it is these days
“Yeah, it’s really good to see I think because obviously there’s a lot of real life drivers that use the sims. I’ve raced with Enzo Fittipaldi and Pietro Fittipaldi, they’re really nice guys and they seem really big into it as well. There’s a few other drivers out there like Lando Norris and Pierre Gasly, who did the virtual GP a while back, and a few others.
“I think it’s definitely it’s good to see real drivers involved because it shows that there is a link between the sim and real life because obviously we feel the car through the wheel. We’re doing sort of the same thing we’re just not feeling the g-force in the corners for example. There is that similarity which perhaps suggests if you’re good enough in Esports you’d be good enough in the real car.”

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