Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Jeddah Corniche Circuit, 2021

Verstappen to compete in 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual

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Formula 1 world champion Max Verstappen will race in next weekend’s 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual endurance simracing event.

The Red Bull F1 driver and current world champion will compete with Team Redline in the LMP class, alongside IndyCar driver Felix Rosenqvist, iRacing Porsche Esports Supercup racer Maximilian Benecke and iRacing World Championship Grand Prix race winner Atze Kerkhof, who is also a driving consultant for the Alfa Romeo real world F1 team.

IndyCar champion Alex Palou is also one of the 200 drivers who will compete in the 24 hour endurance event officially sanctioned by the World Endurance Championship.

The 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual race will take place over Saturday 15th to Sunday 16th of January and broadcast live on YouTube. Racing on the rFactor2 simulation platform, the event forms the finale of the Virtual Le Mans Series Cup, with a prize fund of $250,000 (£184,000) awarded to the event winners.

A total of 50 entries have been announced for the race, made up of 29 LMP and 21 GTE entries. All cars will be shared between four drivers each, who will swap control of their cars during pit stops throughout the endurance race.

Other notable driver include former F1, IndyCar and NASCAR racer Juan Pablo Montoya, who will be racing alongside son Sebastian for the LMVS team. Two-time F1 Esports world champion Jarno Opmeer will compete for Mercedes Esports alongside Daniel Juncadella, while the W Series will enter an official all-woman driver team of Fabienne Wohlwend, Ayla Agren, Lyubov Ozeretskovskaya and veteran Australian simracer Emily Jones.

Fernando Alonso will oversee Alpine Esports’ LMP class entry as team manager, while former F1 and IndyCar driver Romain Grosjean’s team R8G Esports will also participate in the race.

The event will be the second officially-sanctioned virtual 24 Hours of Le Mans race. A one-off simrace was organised during the initial spate of lockdowns during the Covid-19 pandemic in the summer of 2020 that saw motorsport events cancelled across the world, including the annual Le Mans 24 Hours.

Verstappen competed for Team Redline in the 2020 event alongside McLaren driver Lando Norris. The team were leading the race in the night before a lag spike resulted in a collision with the Rebellion-Williams entry and took them out of contention. Rebellion-Williams eventually claimed the overall race victory.

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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44 comments on “Verstappen to compete in 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual”

  1. Flippin heck guys.
    As I started to read the headline I was like “YES. Go for it young Max. Start after that triple thingy that Fernando wants while you are young”.

    Then I saw the “virtual” bit :( :(

    1. The headline went like
      this

    2. @nullapax Yh I was the same. Could he go for first real racer to win the virtual triple crown, especially if F1 hosts some virtual GPs again

    3. I think that one day he will race in the ‘real’ 24h of Le Mans. But I think for now it is not allowed by RB.

      1. Not a chance HJ. He has so much to learn before he’s ready for the real thing. playing bumper cars at Le Mans doesn’t work.

        1. We’ll see ;-)

        2. I agree, he is young and only at the begin of his career with still a lot to learn.
          Even more impressive how he destroyed a 7 time world champion on the peak of his abilitys.
          And he still has so much to add to his learning.

          1. José Lopes da Silva
            9th January 2022, 9:55

            Surely you were not thinking we would see this “so much to learn spoilt brat” thing to magically disappear after the first title…

    4. At least it mentions “Virtual” in the heading. The Racingnews365.com (where Dieter Rencken went) headline just says he’s “retuning to racing action”.

  2. Breaking news. Guy plans to play video game.

    1. Breaking news. Guy who makes money from people watching him play a game plans to make more money letting people watch him play another game.

    2. Hahaha brilliant.

    3. I can’t believe people still think sim racing is just a video game. To think Max has achieved what he has without it is missing the point.

  3. Barry Bens (@barryfromdownunder)
    7th January 2022, 18:09

    The team were leading the race in the night before a lag spike resulted in a collision with the Rebellion-Williams entry took them out of contention. Rebellion-Williams eventually took the overall race victory.

    Williams took them out of contention

    Turns out Latifi crashing and Verstappen taking the championship was just them giving something back! :^)

  4. Will Masi pause the game and change the settings a few times?

    1. That did kind of happen last time (in 2020). They run on rFactor2, which is notorious for not having the most stable servers in the world. So in 2020 the servers started showing signs of something wrong so they red flagged the race (at least once, maybe twice), made everyone leave, reset the server and started again, but back with a closed up field. They also let the Alonso/Barrichello car back into the race after it ran out of fuel earlier on, and gave it a huge number of laps back, which is also not exactly procedure under FIA rules ;-)

      1. OMG, RandomMallard, this is hilarious!

  5. “The team were leading the race in the night before a lag spike resulted in a collision”
    This is actually an interesting and somewhat nice element of reality – basically analogous to a technical failure.
    It’d be cool if the software producers programmed this into the game where an internet lag would be reflected as a technical problem in the virtual world, rather than a glitch that breaks the fourth wall.

    1. RandomMallard
      8th January 2022, 0:26

      amain I can understand the want for something to cover lag a bit better, but I don’t think this is really the solution. Lag is usually an unpredictable problem with Internet, not the program, so there isn’t really anything the program can do to rectify it. I agree it would be cool, but until anyone can make a system to predict lag, I don’t think this is a realistic solution.

      1. Perhaps more analogous with something wrong with the track, e.g. lose drain cover, tyre blow out due to debris…

    2. @amian

      It’d be cool if the software producers programmed this into the game where an internet lag would be reflected as a technical problem in the virtual world, rather than a glitch that breaks the fourth wall.

      That’s like asking for race control for a real race to change a crashed car into rain. It’s not how it works.

    3. Huh, and here’s me thinking that lag had something to do with turbochargers.

  6. In other news:

    Super Mario to Drive for Red Bull in Monaco

    1. In other news:

      Man belittles games on a site devoted to a game.

    2. Mario does not get the freedom of racing for other teams. We gonna have to wait for a real Nintendo F1 Team for that.

  7. I saw the first part and got all excited! Pity the sentence ended with “virtual”.

  8. https://www.gtplanet.net/max-verstappen-talks-sim-racing-20211222/

    There’s a great article (and interview) here where Verstappen talks about the impacts of sim racing on his ability to drive fast and improve himself. There’s too many short-sighted comments here.

    1. Thank you for the link.

    2. @skipgamer

      He also talked about how seriously he takes it during the interview with David Coulthard. He practices as long as the race itself.

  9. Yeah, Verstappen does seem to take this stuff seriously. I wonder if his virtual driving style has influenced his actual on-track driving style negatively, because of the 0 consequences for safety.

    1. Nope It’s an old trope that sim racers tend to encourage more risk. It’s actually the total opposite when you race at any decent level.

  10. Maybe they’ll change the rules there in the last 4 minutes of the race to give him a chance to win?

    1. Maybe people would stop crying about it one day.

      1. The asterisk is there forever. :)

        1. ……. virtual.

        2. Lewis doesn’t have an asterisk having won a WDC in a car that was developed under ‘Spygate’.

          Schumacher doesn’t have an asterisk for 94 after driving into Hill and racing a car with allegedly have TC logged into the system and also pitstopping with modified fuel filter until Ver got cooked.

          Rosberg doesn’t have an astericks in 1982 despite winning only won race and barely beating a Pironi who missed the last 5 races.

          etc…

          1. The only “asterix” is the brilliant pass on Lewis in the last lap of the last race.

          2. José Lopes da Silva
            9th January 2022, 10:00

            Where are Prost and Senna’s asterisks of 1989 and 1990?!

  11. Some very short minded comments. Sim racing is completely different to video games and takes a lot of skill and practice to be competitive. I’ve also seen an interview with Max were he has stated how much sim racing has helped him develop, he is also very highly rated within sim racing within that community.

    Good luck Max, an esports triple crown would be quite the achievement if F1 hold a Monaco esports race during the off season and Indy Car do a virtual 500 as well.

    I could see Max racing in Le Man’s later in his career, I’m unsure if he’d leap across the pond though for the indy 500 but I thought the same of Alonso

    1. Actually, Max is highly rated but also widely disliked. His driving is quick, sometimes on a par with the ‘true’ sim professionals but he’s also got a reputation for taking people out if he’s not winning, throwing tantrums and generally being a bit disrespectful.

      He’s found himself on a ‘big’ professional team because of his name and he’s calmed a bit since that time as he’s got older.

      There’s been a virtual Indy 500 for years on iRacing as well as a virtual LM24 both of which were open to all comers professional and amateur. Max competed in the iracing LM but he’s not very good on an oval. Unfortunately, during the pandemic along came this ‘new’ company Motorsports games (owned by Motorsport.com) and a lot of exclusive licenses started to rest their ugly heads again. For both LM24 and Indy, the licenses now mean that the only way anyone can hold either and Indy500 or LM24 is unofficially in a ‘hosted’ environment and it cannot be named as such. Now the only way to take part in a ‘virtual’ event is the either be a big name real driver, be on a ‘big’ sim racing team or be an influencer on streaming platforms like Jimmy Broadbent (who isn’t actually that good). It’s a real shame, and has gone down like a lead balloon in the sim-racing world where the events and content for them (cars etc) were hugely popular and now are only available on a creaking, aged platform which doesn’t host huge events very well in RF2 (which MSG bought). Exclusive licenses have never worked in racing games, because they lock content from others and immediately deny anyone outside of that platform access. Look at how much the F1 license or the old Porsche license were abused by Electronic arts…

      I’m sure the event will run well, and be very slick and professional. But it’s appeal to sim racers is minimal, real world drivers can’t hold a candle to the sim professionals, they treat it like a joke or a money-making exercise and these events are more like a pro-am golf tournament mess-about than a demonstration of top class sim racing.

      1. You seem to forget all the participants who go to great length to defeat a f1 racer and very often break all the SIM rules doing so.
        It’s hard to keep those “battles” ( or better attacks) at bay.

        1. I’m sorry but that’s just not true. Within iRacing the competition fairness system stops most of the ‘stupid’ type moves from happening and Max has been around so long that novelty factor has more than worn off. Go and watch some of his old stream clips, or those of Lando and you will see how patently untrue your comment is.

          1. Nope, you are building a storyline on some old races were max reacted furiously on some actions by other racers..
            As far as his level goes.. this is illustrative..

            At the iRacing Bathurst 12 Hour 2019, Verstappen was part of a GT3 team with four drivers, which also included Lando Norris and the Dutch professional racing driver Nicky Catsburg.

            The team didn’t make it to the finish, but the notable thing is that Verstappen had by far the lowest iRating, a measure of a driver’s success in iRacing, and he was the only driver on his team to hold a Class C license. By comparison, his three teammates all had Class A licenses, and both Norris and Atze Kerkhof had an iRating of over 6000 – compared to Verstappen’s 1508.

            Fast forward to this year’s iRacing Petit Le Mans run in October and until then, Verstappen’s iRating was 8754, which was higher than many other Team Redline drivers who were also participating.

            This is an easy way to quantify Verstappen’s rising successes in esports over the past three years, but it should also be remembered that what matters is what he’s accomplished at iRacing.

            Verstappen was also one of the stars of the very first The Race All-Star Esports Battle run on rFactor 2. He took pole position and won his group race with opponents such as Juan Pablo Montoya, Colton Herta and Antonio Felix da Costa.

            This win took the Red Bull driver to the finals, where he competed against a number of top-class eSports drivers and other real racing drivers.

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