Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Yas Marina, 2021

Verstappen crashes out of 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual while leading

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In the round-up: Max Verstappen crashed out of the 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual after leading the first seven hours of the race

In brief

Verstappen crashes Redline out of lead of 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual

Formula 1 world champion Max Verstappen crashed out of the 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual after his Redline team led the first seven hours of the race.

Starting the number 123 Redline LMP car from second on the grid, Verstappen took the lead of the race as the field plunged down La Chapelle for the first time. Sharing the car with Felix Rosenqvist, Atze Kerkhof and Maximilian Benecke, Verstappen led the early running, building a margin of almost a minute to their team mates, the number 70 Realteam Hydrogen Redline car.

With just under 16 hours and 40 minutes remaining and the virtual sun beginning to set, Verstappen lost control of his car over the kerbs of the Ford Chicane while lapping a GTE class car that was entering the pits. The car crashed into the tyre barriers, registering enough force within the damage model of the rFactor 2 simulation platform to cause critical damage to the left rear wheel and resulting in the car’s immediate retirement.

Verstappen’s team were not the only ones to experience difficulties in the early running, with the Mercedes Esports entry featuring F1 Esports world champion Jarno Opmeer becoming the first retirement when driver Dani Juncadella caused a driver-induced engine failure by downshifting too aggressively under braking for the Ford Chicane. The all-women W-Series entry failed to start the race after a glitch on driver Fabienne Wohlwend’s system before the formation lap left race organisers unable to add them to the event.

After nine hours of racing, the number 70 Realteam Hydrogen Racing car led the race, with defending race winners Rebellion Esports in second.

Alonso undergoes further jaw surgery to remove titanium plates

Alpine driver Fernando Alonso says he has recently undergone successful jaw surgery to remove plates installed following a cycling accident in Switzerland early last year.

Speaking during the Le Mans 24 Hours Virtual coverage in support of Alpine’s entry, the two-time world champion said he had spent a recent stint in hospital after receiving surgery. Alonso had previously disclosed that he would be undergoing surgery in January following the end of last year’s F1 season.

“I’m just following the race, following the team Alpine Sport, car 36,” Alonso said. “I’m not able to participate this time. I had surgery last week and I was a little bit in the hospital and now I’m recovering. But I want to follow the race. It is an amazing event and I wanted to be part of somehow.”

Alonso said he had discussed entering the endurance simracing event with F1 team mate Esteban Ocon, before his surgery had sidelined him.

“I think we wanted to do it together somehow in the same car, but because I couldn’t make it, I think he decided to postpone it,” he said. “But I think the one day we will do it together. That’s a guarantee.”

Grosjean “praying” future IndyCar schedules allow for Le Mans opportunity

Romain Grosjean says he hopes that future IndyCar schedules will allow him to compete in the Le Mans 24 Hours in the years to come.

The Andretti Autosport driver stated his desire to race in the most famous endurance race in the world in an interview during coverage of the 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual simracing event, in which his esports team, R8G, have two entries in the LMP category. This year’s Le Mans 24 Hours takes place on the same weekend as IndyCar’s race at Road America.

“I’m praying that the calendar in 2023 is made in a way that I can compete in IndyCar and I’m free for the Le Mans 24 Hours,” Grosjean said.

“I know LMDH is coming and I would love to be in one of those cars in Le Mans. It was one of the best races I’ve ever done. So definitely want to come and I’m just hoping really that the calendar is going to be made in a way that I can compete. I would like to do Daytona [24 Hours]. I like to do Sebring, Petite Le Mans and obviously Le Mans.”

Grosjean has competed once in the iconic race, in a Ford GT with Matech back in 2010. The car was retired after 171 laps.

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Comment of the day

With BBS announced as exclusive wheel supplier to Formula 1 from this season, @stefmeister does not embrace the sport moving towards increased standardisation of parts…

Moving towards a standard wheel supplier isn’t on it’s own that big a deal but it is 1 more thing in a growing list of bits which have been made standard with a push to add more things to that list going forward & it’s just something i’m really uncomfortable with as it goes against an aspect of F1 which I not only really enjoy but which I also see as a key part of F1.

That been competition & the freedom for teams to select suppliers or construct components which they feel best suits there package to maximise it’s performance.

Competition not just between teams, drivers & strategists but also between engine suppliers, Tyre suppliers, Brakes, suspension, cooling, wheels, gearbox, electronics & more. I just enjoy seeing different designs, different interpretations & ideas which perform in different ways & have different strengths & weaknesses which offer & create variety & again are picked because a team thinks it’s the best for there package to fully maximise there performance.

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday to Dave and Daniel Martinez!

Author information

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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  • 55 comments on “Verstappen crashes out of 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual while leading”

    1. I blame Masi.

      No way would Max have fallen asleep from sheer boredom. This has to be Masi to blame!

      1. Noframingplease (@)
        16th January 2022, 9:06

        Thanx for acknowledging you are not a Max fan. What’s next: he stole the WDC?

        1. lighten up

      2. JOTD – Joke of the day

      3. Israel Rodriguez
        16th January 2022, 20:59

        He was probably thinking about returning the championship back to its rightful owner.

    2. I know it wasn’t him, but reading Tom Felton talking about this year’s F1 world championship as one of his cultural highlights made me want to believe that it really was him “protecting” Megan Thee Stallion (or however she spells it) from the advances of Martin Brundle…

    3. LOL…Verstappen crashed out…now there’s a shocker…hahaha

      1. Actually yes, there were races where past champions crashed out while dominating, schumacher in canada 1999 (at least looked like he was gonna win) and spa 1998, hakkinen in imola 1999, senna in monaco 1988 and that other race where he hit a lapped car in the rain, but I don’t remember such a case for verstappen, yet some people call him crashtappen…

        1. And Lewis in China 2007, while he could have sealed the championship by finishing.

        2. Because folks like you keep going for that bait, every time.

        3. The only noteworthy is that the way he crashed out was very similar to the Jeddah qualy lap. Again slamming the side of the car against the wall after carrying too much speed.

    4. Re:CotD

      But that freedom of choice and design comes with a cost and has traditionally allowed the big teams to outspend the little ones which leads to competitive advantage. Now there’s a cost cap it doesn’t make sense for each team to be competing with each other to buy a small number of specific components from suppliers or designing their own, when with the purchasing power of the whole field everyone can get a better deal on the costs of those components allowing spending on other areas.

      F1 in a way can’t go back to a free and open formula, because it’s not what the teams want and it’s not what the tracks want. The teams want cheaper racing, and the tracks want closer racing. Standardised parts hits both of those birds with one stone.

      1. which leads to competitive advantage

        Which is what the SPORT is supposed to be about.

        The purpose of the SPORT of Motor Racing wasn’t ever to produce a close or competitive show, It was to develop a competitive advantage over the competition to win. It was always meant to be a technical showcase which people just happened to find entertaining.

        If you want to turn it into Motor Show then change its name to GP1 or something because it will certainly no longer be F1 & has zero right to use the name.

        Liberty & the FIA should be ashamed of what they have done to this once great pinnacle of the SPORT!

        The GP1 show it is becoming will lead to its decline. If the masses truly wanted a standard part more spec series they would watch Indycar which gets a fraction of F1’s viewership despite allegedly having everything the GP1-ers claim most fans want (closer competition more overtaking). If that was truly what fans were most interested in then surely Indycar, GP2 and similar would be more popular than they are.

        1. 1000% agreed

      2. Now there’s a cost cap it doesn’t make sense for each team to be competing with each other…

        The budget cap is by far the best reason and opportunity to open things up for more technical competition, @skipgamer.
        F1 isn’t (or wasn’t) about quantity discounts or economy of scale – it is (or was) a prototyping series. Every individual part is (was) supposed to be the most suitable design available to achieve ultimate performance – despite being outrageously expensive, completely irrelevant and absolutely useless outside of that particular purpose.
        With this trajectory, soon the only development expenses for the teams will be in the aerodynamics department – which serves absolutely no function or purpose whatsoever outside of that particular F1 team at that particular time.

        Besides that – the majority of the expense that goes into individually developed wheels, brake systems etc, is absorbed by the development partner – not the F1 team.
        They don’t want to simply put their branding logo on the car, they want to show off their engineering ability – and are willing to pay for the privilege.

        1. The wheels are not going to cost less to the teams. Other manufacturers have just been deprived of the best lab/ test ground available to test and develop products for the road, exactly what the switch to 18″ wheels was supposed to be for: road relevancy.

          1. exactly this.
            And besides the ‘test ground’ being taken away it also takes away a branding opportunity on one of the last visual parts of the car which is relevant to many car owners (significant market for non factory wheels).

            It seems that FOM is just charging to be a middle man where there is no middle man required or even desired.

          2. No-one is doing anything in or for F1 with the goal of road relevance.
            Brand awareness, image and sales – yes. Relevance – certainly no.

      3. Both of these comments speak to the same point, that F1 is not what it used to be… I don’t disagree with that.

        If there was a market for what F1 used to be, there is nothing stopping anybody from creating that series… I’d love to see it.

        1. There’s certainly a market for it, but it’s entirely impractical to create a new series to take advantage of it.
          F1 is already struggling to attract sufficient financial backing – creating another major global open wheel series, no matter how popular and well-supported it is, would just damage both of them.

          It’s worth noting that F1 has taken the path that it has because they are prioritising participation from manufacturers over private teams.
          With predominantly independent teams, F1 would almost certainly be much more technically open.

        2. F1 can never be “what it used to be” simply because technological progress does not allow it. People in the sport can’t unlearn the last 7+ decades so although regulations may change, we’ll never get back to the same paradigm as the golden age (whenever that may be, it seems to be highly variable from fan to fan!).

          I think there are two interrelated reasons why we really can’t “go back”. Firstly, simulation models are now very widely used, which means the risk of failure is diminished and also that different teams’ strategies (design and race strategy) are more likely to converge. We see this in other sports too – in cycling, successful teams have begun to operate in a very similar way to one another; also team sports and track/field athletes tend to adopt similar strategies to their rivals. However, sports like cycling retain the pure biological element (which can be quite boring too, if it’s just a watts-per-kilo contest) as well as the human error/random element (arguably the best races, the cobbled classics, are the ones with high risks of errors or bad luck). Team sports also have higher chance of human error, which makes them exciting. These things cannot be fully controlled by simulation.

          In F1, simulation has eliminated a great deal of risk of human error and bad luck – the unforeseen is crucial to generating excitement and interest. My feeling is that the teams are just too well prepared (bulletproof reliability is an example of this). The second related reason is that as teams get better at what they do (simulation being a part of this), there is a law of diminishing returns in creating competitive advantage. The restrictiveness of the regulations exacerbate this problem, which speaks to the financial arms race discussed in the comments above.

          If we reset the regs to the 1980s turbo era (or whatever era you love), the teams would quickly optimise the technical solutions posed and we’d end up somewhere rather dull.

          Having said all this, we did just have quite a good season but I think we got lucky with the circumstantial relative performance of two car-driver combinations. Had red bull had two Perez level drivers it would hardly be a classic season. I think the over-preparedness of the teams could be obviated by increasing the chance of human error or randomness. That means making the cars harder to drive and naturally increasing hazards (e.g bigger grids, gravel traps, tougher/narrower circuits).

          1. Really good comment, and agree with you. The only way is to have more punishing circuits, and harder cars to drive. This way no artificial means would be needed to overcome this whole over preparedness of teams and bulletproof reliability.

          2. I know we can’t unlearn things. But probably what many people are asking for is shorter, narrower cars. Not the weight limit being increased every year.
            Luckily the new engine regs will get rid of the complicated electric part of the engine. I’m all for innovation in electric and renewable resources, but FE is already there to be the lab for those innovations.
            Let’s see when F1 will finally get rid of DRS. I would be more for some kind of regulated F-duct. All the teams can use it but it’s obligatory to operate it with your knee, not with a button on the wheel either, and to use it for either defending or attacking.

    5. I agree with the COTD. I’ve noticed an almost obsession around trying to prove which driver is best and claims that F1 isn’t a sport because the drivers don’t have equal machinery. But I feel like this attitude completely misses the point that the competition in developing the fastest car possible is and has always been fundamental to the sport. Spec series exist already. Part of F1’s appeal is the difference in the cars and the innovations and solutions teams come up with to find an advantage over the competition.

      1. The issue for many people is that some do equate the fastest and most consistent car with the ‘best’ driver. Obviously, that isn’t necessarily the case. Possibly never.
        The other problem is that only one series has the right to crown a World Drivers Champion. Clearly, drivers in the fastest cars will have a much better chance of attaining this, even though there may be ‘better’ drivers in slower or less consistent cars.
        Motorsport isn’t a sport in the way that athletics or soccer is – it’s a different category of sport altogether.
        The driving isn’t the primary element of sport in F1. It is secondary.

        Although personally, I think it should be the most important factor. F1 could achieve this without taking away technical diversity – they just need a shift in basic philosophy.

        1. The definition of ‘better’ would be very important, I’d say.

          I agree that the driving is secondary in F1, but I think that’s the way it should be, so I’m curious – could you elaborate on your last paragraph?

          1. I can give two examples:
            One way is to impose a set of technical limits – rather than the current specifications. Let the teams decide how to reach those limits, rather than telling them what they have to do.
            The focus shifts slightly away from ultimate performance, and more onto efficiency.
            Just look back at F1 from the 70’s to 90’s – there were no prescribed designs that teams had to build to. They made their own cars in their own ways. Even the engines – with a 3L capacity they were free to do pretty much anything within that single limit. 1990 alone saw 5 fundamentally different engine formats across 8 manufacturers, for example, and Ferrari and Ford used multiple engine models throughout that season.

            Another way is subjectively a little unpopular, but objectively very effective – Success ballast.
            You can make whatever car you think is best and stuff it with all the latest and greatest gadgets you can dream up (within a technical formula and under the budget cap, of course) – but the more you win, the greater your challenge will become.

            Both serve the sporting aspects (technical design and driving) – they’re just a different approach to way things are done now.

    6. I’d delete this because it’s in the wrong spot, but we’ve no option to delete or edit comments 🤷‍♂️

    7. To be fair to Max, from the videos I’ve seen so far those kerbs at the Ford Chicane do look absolutely lethal, and can imagine it being even worse with a GT car in the way. Obviously the mistakes still on him for crashing out, but I’ve seen plenty of others nearly lose it there a few times.

      As I said a few days ago, I’m enjoying seeing the 2021 liveries on 2022 cars. Starts to give us a vague idea of what they look like in team colours, as well as what works and what doesn’t work.

      Hope Le Mans can avoid clashes with both Indy and F1 in the future.

      Again, I’ve said this before but I’m very excited for the next America’s Cup. Really enjoyed last year’s edition, and with even more F1 collaboration (I would assume due to the budget cap) I’m really looking forward to it.

      COTD: Agree. Wheel rims are nothing big on their own, but they very much suggest the direction F1 are heading in.

    8. While I see COTD’s sentiment, I’ve never really cared about a wheel supplier, so BBS being an exclusive one trivial.

    9. Barry Bens (@barryfromdownunder)
      16th January 2022, 8:35

      Lewis Hamilton quitting F1 not ruled out and would be a ‘disgrace’, says Toto Wolff (Evening Standard)

      “It will always follow us – although Max Verstappen was a worthy world champion over the season. But that day, one was better than the other – and they didn’t win.”

      Toto needs to lay off the Hamilton-koolaid; these fake claims of there even being any doubt about Hamiltons future are of their own making and clearly false. All just so they can make a big fuss about ‘We managed to keep him you guys, but now you better listen to us more!!!’. Pretty much ‘oh no Bono these tyres wont hold’, but even more obvious fake.

        1. Now I’ve seen the drive-to-arrive response to this tweet I’m cheering to getting those kind of stories onto Netflix :)

      1. I’m not surprised Toto keeps on beating his victim drum, but disappointed it keeps making the round-up.

        1. And of all the stories, you and Barry choose to respond to it. SMH.

          1. And you Emma, said the fool :)

    10. RE: COTD F1 has been the main sport which through competition, encourages innovation in racing cars. Through that, it has seemed like F1 can help make road cars more responsive, faster, safer, more efficient etc. So it felt like it mattered.

      But in 10 years time, a motorsport based around internal combustion engines might not be relevant to road cars any more, so would it really need to be innovative? Perhaps the best it can do is provide an action packed Sunday afternoon and get punters to look at names of dodgy cryptocurrency sponsors. A spec series using the F1 name would do that quite well.

      1. I’m not sure that F1 will still be running ICEs much past 10 years time. I strongly suspect that some other technology will have taken over, at least predominantly. The next engine formula has already been confirmed to be almost 50% electric in power delivery, so the one after that is likely to derive less than half it’s output from the ICE (even assuming an ICE is involved). There is also the possibility that batteries could have progressed enough to make a pure EV viable at F1 performance levels, or some other technology may have stepped in to fill the gap (fuel cells, for instance).

        Mercedes is already using technology developed in F1 in its electric road cars. Moving closer and closer to a spec series will reduce the opportunities for this to happen, so I do think they need to leave some major components open for development, at the very least.

    11. How is there not a mention of the Dakar rally that just finished? Or of the rally at all

    12. Two things- First I agree with the COTD, anyone who can’t see the elimination of competition from F1 are blind.
      Second, the people criticising Verstappen for crashing out of the 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual need to back off, even the best drivers have crashed out of that gruelling event.

    13. Ref: Lewis Hamilton quitting F1 not ruled out and would be a ‘disgrace’, says Toto Wolff (Evening Standard)

      I doubt, bar people from the UK, anyone would mind Lewis quitting. Seriously, the drama has to end somewhere. Even when he is not racing he is a nuisance. And there is plenty of talent around with the new batch of drivers. I think Lewis wanted to quit anyway since he acknowledged it would be hard to beat Max and his tally was mere up to the car that didn’t loose a single year in the entire hybrid era. I expect, given Lewis character, he will opt for a Prost: sit on the sideline for a year and watch which car is the clearly the best and then return for one year and drive that car.

      1. @Mayrton neither a hamilton fan or a Verstappen fan, but either dropping out of F1 in such a way would be a blow to F1.

        1. Amazing how no F1 insider/media has revealed that TW is on the hunt for LH’s replacement in case he quits;) Must be the best kept secret in the history of F1. They’re testing in about 5 weeks.

          1. @robbie I’m not convinced Hamilton is leaving but if so Russell is his replacement. They could try to get Ocon over from Alpine as his teammate.

      2. I doubt, bar people from the UK, anyone would mind Lewis quitting.

        I really wonder what kind of F1 fan can say this with a straight face after watching the 2021 season. The only reason it was so great is because we had BOTH Lewis and Max pushing each other all the way. How can you seriously say you wouldn’t mind one half of that duo retiring right now?

        1. true that, but that only goes for 2021

        2. But it ultimately wouldn’t matter if it was Hamilton and Verstappen, or Alonso and Ricciardo, or even Latifi and Mazepin fighting it out for the championship.
          The competition and the rivalry are the things that most people have been wanting for so long.

          1. Yes and I’m saying – at the moment – it is those two delivering on those two fronts. Remove either one and you’d have had a boring season. We wait to see if the other teams can build cars good enough for their drivers to join in the fun.

        3. And in all honesty, the 2021 season was not great at all. It was staged to be competitive. For me personally one of the worst season I have seen. Maybe not boring, but way too much entertainment driven and very little to do with fair sportsmanship. Nevertheless both Lewis and Max showed stellar performances and a higher level of consistency than all other drivers. Pity they did it in such a money driven toxic environment. They would both be better off competing in a different series.

    14. First, Formula 1 is a “car” racing series. Liberty thinks it is a driver series. Tell that to Ferrari. It is a “team” series. Team orders, yes please!
      Second, the past 30 years have been all about manipulated racing; Re-fueling; Forced tyre changes; Blue flags; DRS; Track limits, and giant cars that are far too big for the circuits! (Look what golf balls have done to golf and golf courses!)

      But the worst waste of energy has been all the simulator and wind tunnel work that negates any chance of anybody other than the top teams winning anything! (Does anyone remember when they wanted to water the tracks to make it more interesting?)
      My solution: Reduce the size and weight of the “cars.” Stop mandated parts suppliers. Allow three tyre companies! Ban simulators and wind tunnels. Remove all the recent (30 years) ***** on-track regulations. Allow a second chassis for each driver. Allow drivers to change cars, taking over their team mates car during a race if their’s breaks down.
      Let the cars be developed at the circuits as they did before “technology” and celebrity drivers ruined the real racing! That means going back to a Thursday to Sunday race weekend with practice/testing every day and the old two session qualifying format on Friday and Saturday!
      As for the developing technology for the auto industry; can anyone think of something that F1 has invented for street cars, other than traffic problems? The auto manufacturers are in it for promotion and marketing, not for technology.

      Oh, two more things (there are hundreds more!): Ban in car radios and drinks bottles!

      Just imagine if horse racing was taken over by a genetics companies! Oops, I think they are already!

      1. You forgot the grid girls and the tobacco sponsorship @jjfrazz.

    15. Every day, on social media, I see these salty comments of Hamilton “fans” with their “asterisk champion,” “#F1xed” and stuff like that. If even Damon Hill has urged on Twitter to move on, those people should follow his example, being Damon one of the most ardent defenders of Lewis Hamilton.
      Also Max’s “fans” should stop the claims Mercedes was somehow cheating on the last races.
      What these two extreme positions do is nothing but deride the sport we love.

      1. Whilst I agree with your sentiment I dont think you are in a position to tell any “fans” of any driver what they should and shouldn’t be doing. Rewind 6 years or so and you were a Vettel Fan. You jumped ship as soon as you saw someone better so please spare me this sanctimonious B S. You are in no position to preach to fans even if what you say is correct. These Max and Lewis fans you speak of at least have some self respect and stand by their guy come what may. Bore off.

    16. Max crashed out on a videogame. Got it.

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