Playstation racing genius earns chance to drive for Red Bull’s F1 team
Playstation racing genius earns chance to drive for Red Bull’s F1 team

Playing video games might be fun - but it'll never get you anywhere. Right?

Wrong. Just ask Jann Mardenborough.

The 23-year-old from the UK has the chance to drive for F1 world champion Sebastian Vettel's Red Bull team - and it all started because of his prowess at the Gran Turismo games on the Playstation.

Mardenborough was the 2011 winner of the GT Academy, a reality TV-style competition which attracted over 90,000 racing driver wannabes.

The early stages of the competition were played purely on the Playstation, but the best drivers were whittled down until a select few competed in real-world challenges. Mardenborough came through to win - and his prize was a chance to drive for Nissan in the Dubai 24 Hour endurance race.

He came third in the competition, and hasn't looked back in his career since: a year after his big break he won a race in the British GT Championship and came sixth in the season standings, then last year he was the best rookie in the Toyota Racing Series before earning a chance in both British and European Formula 3 last year.

The 23-year-old Brit is now a race winner in the formula one-supporting GP3 series – the same category that launched Valtteri Bottas and Daniil Kvyat to F1 stardom.

And what is more, he has been signed to Red Bull's famous young driver development program, which offers up-and-coming stars the chance to test Formula 1 cars. It's the route that Vettel himself took into F1 - and gives Mardenborough genuine hope of landing a spot in motor racing's premier series.

Despite having graduated from Playstation racing less than three years ago, Mardenborough sounds utterly confident about his chances.

"It was my ideal win I had in my head," Mardenborough told Fairfax.

"The more ideal would be to have it in race one, and that is now my personal goal, a podium in race one and following that a race win."

"Formula 3 has taught me so many things, both in the car and out of the car, both mentally and physically. It was a great stage in my development and I’m sure the skills I've learnt there will help me in GP3 and beyond."

"Last year I would have been thrilled to get a podium in GP3 or F3 and now I've done that twice now I'm onto the next thing," he says.

"I feel more at home now, more confident as well. And that's massive. I know I can jump in a sports car, an LMP2 or GT car, and know I can be there or thereabouts."

Red Bull's young driver development manager talked up his new signing, and suggested that there is now nothing strange about unearthing new talent via Playstation racing.

"We’re delighted to welcome Jann onto our programme. We have been tracking Nissan’s innovative approach to motorsport and in particular GT Academy that challenges the status quo of motorsport," said Andy Damerum.

"The traditional route to F1 of karting and single-seaters is a tried and tested success but Nissan and PlayStation have gone down a very different road and started to find some very talented drivers who have been doing all their practicing on a games console."

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