Verstappen slams Virtual Le Mans “clown show” after disconnection costs victory

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In the round-up: Reigning F1 world champion Max Verstappen declared the Virtual Le Mans 24 Hour simracing event a “clown show” after his team lost a likely victory 18 hours into the race when they disconnected from the server.

In brief

Verstappen slams Virtual Le Mans “clown show”

Reigning F1 world champion Max Verstappen declared the Virtual Le Mans 24 Hour simracing event a “clown show” after his team lost a likely victory 18 hours into the race when they disconnected from the server.

Verstappen was leading the simracing event in the #1 Team Redline entry with team mates Luke Browning, Jeffrey Rietveld and Diogo Pinto until they disconnected from the race’s server with only six hours remaining. The race, held on Motorsport Games’ rFactor 2 platform, had been stopped multiple times on Saturday due to a “security breach” with the server.

“They call it ‘amazingly bad luck’, well, this is just incompetence,” Verstappen said on the Team Redline Twitch stream of the event.

“Honestly, it’s a joke. You cannot call this an event – a clownshow. That’s why it’s better to retire the car, because driving around in P15 for six hours makes no sense for everyone. Just a disgrace for all the effort we put in as a team.

“I hope the organisers of today also consider where they put this race going forward, because on this platform it’s not going to work.”

The race was won by the #2 Team Redline entry, driven by IndyCar racer Felix Rosenqvist, F2 champion Felipe Drugovich, Luke Bennett and Chris Lulham.

AWS graphics making F1 “more accessible” – Smedley

Formula 1’s director of data systems, Rob Smedley, says that Amazon’s AWS data graphics during race broadcasts are intended purely to make the sport “more accessible” to new fans.

AWS data has been used to display informative graphics during F1 broadcasts, including predicted overtaking difficulty and tyre wear levels among others. However, the graphics have received criticism from fans for being uninformative or misleading.

“What we were trying to do there with Formula 1 was to make the sport more accessible again to fans,” Smedley explained during the Autosport International event.

“I wanted to bring what we see during a race weekend, when you’re sitting on a pit wall and you’ve got all of those squiggly lines and the myriad of data and data sources, that’s something that the fans never get to see. It’s a key and integral part of Formula 1, of any motorsport.

“It’s just about bringing snippets of that in what we call ‘human readable format’ – you shouldn’t need a maths degree to understand it. But hopefully it’s working.”

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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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64 comments on “Verstappen slams Virtual Le Mans “clown show” after disconnection costs victory”

  1. One graphic I really hate is from an onboard forward facing camera where the car ahead is bracketed and named as one would see in a cheap arcade game. What is all that about?

    1. +1
      I do not know why it needs to be bracketed. I consider it some kind of just because we can do so, self-serving showboating.
      Looks like we have similar taste about it.
      Then how about the “towing rope” animation when one car is chasing an other, and occasionally they render some kind of chevron or triangle like objects in between them? I consider it a large amount of clutter, maybe that is what I like the least form the current graphics. Currently I can not find a screenshot depicting this, but I guess many have seen this. This is occupying so much on the screen, and I consider it a great distraction.

      1. Some funny addition:
        I wonder how the “towing rope” animation would look like, if while shown, one of the two cars runs wide, and for example takes a great excursion in the gravel. I guess, as it is rendered at about realtime, it would still be accurate, but what if someone does a great spin? :)

      2. Some of those graphics are entirely unnecessary. The ‘tow rope’ isn’t as bad an offender as the brackets but doesn’t feel needed, especially when it shows the gap in meters which is entirely pointless due to how such a figure would yo-yo.

      3. Gavin Campbell
        16th January 2023, 15:39

        I don’t dislike the towing rope – its quite a good indicator to show where you can and can’t overtake and differences in traction etc. It does provide information.

        The on-board game esque highlighting of the car in front is very weird. Theres only 20 cars and 10 liveries in the field there also quite big. I’m fully aware of that car and whos in it why would you highlight it? I agree with the comment that its just cause they can!

        1. Thanks, I will try to watch it from this perspective (I liked that you mention difference in traction), when I will encouter this graphics at tthe next occasions, and I hope I will see what you see.

          Also I understand, what others say, that the target audience of these graphics are the very young and new fans maybe. At tthe towing rope I am mainly annoyed by its proportionally being big and vivid colored, so it has a distractiong effect to some extent as well imo.

          I think Amazon or AWS should give their name to something deeper. I mean even many of the indie apps built on these services are much more analytic or stonger at data processing and information visualization. So for example they could build something slightly more meaningful than the real time rendered bracket.
          For example:
          – they could spare the machine resources spent on the bracketing, as a good green example
          – or they could spend them improving the stewarding tools, this could improve the sport’s cleanliness and credibility, what is not a disadvantageous thing as they are a major sponsor, involved in this expensive business just like many other participants. So it could be mutually beneficial, even if it is a bit indirect idea.
          – spend them on charity, education, etc
          – spend them on researching crash structures, with the goal of dowinsizing F1 cars, while maintaining a similar level of safety
          – or just build somewhat less shallow apps/widgets for the F1 broadcast :) (For example I would like to know the entire tyre allocation for every entrat, any time, including how much each sets were ran. Or I liked tghe idea of “bernasaurus” who said, that it would be good to have an option to turn on or off some on screen graphics on TV. Well there are many buttons on the average TV remote controller nowadyas. I guess, as/if all of the date would be sent to the TV, for example some of the buttons which are/were used in context of teletext could do that. Or at least I would like to see some configurability in this field too. If not on TV, then on streams. Like having options for “basic”, “all” “no” graphics. Or having an option of setting the size and color intensity of the widgets. )

    2. It makes sense when you try to make a game look like a real thing. When you try to do the opposite, now that’s a worrying mindset. I hate that graphic too, and I wonder how its creator (or whoever allowed it) justifies its existence. As a viewer I feel like being treated like a fool. There’s too much distraction on screen already, but something so utterly useless and stupid… To quote Max: “It’s a clown show”. One little thing I could ignore, but this is an obvious trend with the sport.

    3. +1 on the bracketing – its useful to say who is in front, but highlight “where the car is” is really not needed.

    4. My kid loves that, especially when there’s also the distance to the target. He’s 7, and _maybe_ that’s the whole point of that graphic

    5. Yeah, that ‘bracket graphic’ and the seemingly now removed ‘how many laps until a pass’ graphic are easily the ones that I really wish weren’t on the screen. I don’t get the ‘bracket’, it’s a car, I can see it and probably easier if you hadn’t put a bright graphic around it.

      The only one I need is the left hand side column with positions, compounds and times between each driver. I can see if someone is slipping back, whether the hards are firing up, possible pit windows etc.

      But I think Smedley and @m-bagattini have a point. If you’re on this website, those AWS graphics aren’t meant for us. And the sport is growing in popularity, which is a good thing, generally. They’re meant for newbies and 7 year olds. And I guess once you’re not a newbie or 7 years old anymore. You have to learn to ignore them, or F1 could offer an option to customise or turn them off. But I guess advertising is probably the biggest part of the reason they are there to begin with.

  2. I say this as one from the UK: I hate the fact that the car speed is shown in mph as well as km/h.
    It’s dumbing down too far and it’s only aimed at the US audience.
    They don’t show temperatures in Fahrenheit, so speed should be in metric also.

    1. You’re from the UK and don’t realize that you also use mph? That’s as ridiculous as your complaint.

    2. @nvherman Temps are shown in both units actually, so I guess you haven’t noticed.
      I don’t mind that speeds & temps (elevations only in meters & IIRC, the same with track lengths in km) are shown in two units used for the same measurement purpose.
      I generally care that unless different measurements are shown in both equivalent units, they’d get shown in the ones that serve vast majority world population if a given post, video, etc., is intended for international viewers rather than predominantly US.

    3. Talk about first world problems.

  3. Max left a smart and correct criticism of the game on a private discord, and it was screenshoted, and now is on a website as F1news. I think his rightful in criticism of what went wrong with the game, because it’s most of the drivers who put in the time and effort who get disconnected when the system should be more robust to do work.

    These problems have been going on for multiple events, and points to the real issues with the ACO licensing to Motorsport Games – a failing game company.

    1. Max left a smart and correct criticism of the game on a private discord

      That is not the comment quoted above.

  4. The calmest rage ever, barely even a rage, but wholly spot-on.

    I doubt Ricciardo would be a threat, but never say never.

    I wonder who the three persons in Ocon’s tweet are?

    1. @jerejj from left to right, Christophe Maé a French singer, Sébastien Chabal a French rugbyman and Thomas Pesquet, a French astronaut.
      Showcasing together for a charity event where known people sing together, “les enfoirés”. Profits go to “les restos du coeur”, a restaurants chain with free meals and insertion jobs for poor people.

      1. @spoutnik Thank you so much. I had no idea who they were or what was happening.

      2. @spoutnik Thank you. I’ve never heard of them, so I couldn’t possibly have recognized.

  5. So MV is complaining, at some length, that ‘incompetence’ (otherwise known as ‘human error’) took a victory away from him. Interesting. He even says he will uninstall the game. Seems he is still acting like the youngest driver in the sport.
    For a driver with his talent, I find him very hard to like as a person. I hoped he would mature like wine, not like mayonnaise. Let’s hope for the future, he’s got a long time to go.

    1. For a driver with his talent, I find him very hard to like as a person.

      Why try?

      1. Why try?

        Because I persist in trying to see good in people. Comes from being an old woke lefty hippie peacenik I suppose.
        BTW according to Google Translate “verstappen” == “stumble”…

        1. Coventry Climax
          18th January 2023, 1:10

          Google Translate gives you awful translations. You’ve just proved that again. ‘Verstappen’ means -sort of- making the wrong step (and sprain an ankle). That’s not the same as ‘to stumble’.
          Google is probably also where you found your explanation for ‘incompetence’, as that’s incorrect too.

          1. Translation is a hard problem, certainly. So do you think the programmer made a misstep? Incompetence is embarrassing, I apologise for any errors, I’m only human after all. :((

    2. Why is an adult F1 driver even playing a video game for? I know he’s immature, but this is kind of incredible.

      1. Calling iRacing a video game isn’t entirely accurate. It’s not wrong– but it’s not right, either. That would be like calling the team simulators “gaming computers”.

        There are professional pilots who use Microsoft Flight Simulator as part of their training– and no one sneers at them.

        If they were playing F1 2022 and taking it seriously, however, I’d agree with you.

        1. Whoops. rFactor 2.

          1. I know what you were thinking… iRacing is what they should have hosted the LM24 on but ACO followed the money and didn’t do their research and now they’re stuck on a 10 year contract with RFactor. I hope they’re checking the contract for break clauses or infringement on RFactors obligations.

      2. F1 is just big toy cars.

      3. Wow so all adults playing video games are immature? That’s one arrogant opinion you’ve got there.

    3. Completely agree.

      When unexpected circumstances (platform instability causing disconnections) costs him a likely victory, he throws a tantrum complaining about incompetence.

      When unexpected circumstances (a late safety car which the race director completely mishandles) gifts him a race and championship victory, however, it’s all perfectly legitimate, and he throws a tantrum every time anyone even mentions that there were any irregularities.

      The hypocrisy of his behaviour is ridiculous.

      1. It wasn’t a tantrum and he succinctly echoed the views of almost the entire sim racing community.

      2. This wasn’t a tantrum, Max was calm and explained why he was leaving the race. He made a rational and clear statement. Did you even watch the video?

    4. Yeah, it’s totally ok to be unprofessional with your competition. No one is allowed to say something about it after the organizers have wasted hours and hours and hours of their participants time… because if you say something, you are immature. It’s not like its a casual Saturday night game with some friends and a plastic trophy.

      1. *cough* Abu Dhabi *cough*

        1. And a lot has been said rightfully about that as well. But for the 1 million-th time a season consists of more than a single race and that whole season was rigged to the bone to create the utterly disgraceful situation of letting them start on equal points before the race. Season should normally have been wrapped up way before that race. So zero effect on both titles eventually

      2. But when the organizers of an international, multi-million dollar event screw up handling the rules in the final, title deciding race, it’s perfectly fine and any broadcaster who even mentions that there were any irregularities should be boycotted…

    5. He must love the huge brackets around the car in front, telling him who it is…

  6. lol Grosjean making Verstappen look like a clown. Love it.

    Ive seen both Verstappen and Norris straight up take people out in iRacing before while laughing about it. Not surprised to hear the quote from Verstappen in this article.

    1. Grosjean is literally sponsored by Motorsports Games. A google search is so easy but then it might not align with you not liking max.

      Bottom like is rfactor2 isn’t robust enough to host these races, and that is shameful given they have the commercial rights for WEC.

    2. Grosjean likened it to having a mechanical issue. But thats not correct. 2x “red flag” periods because their servers weren’t up to the job isnt like one driver having a mechanical. It’s like the F1 timing system going down and them having to pause an F1 race while they sort it out. Twice. If that happened, the FIA/F1 would be under under serious flak and rightly so. This is no different as far as I see.

      1. That actually happened a couple of years ago in a practice session, FIA/F1 lost communication with their UK base, but of course in real life you can still run the event with local (very crude) timing systems and back up radios. In online competitions everything just stops altogether.

  7. What a shame for rF2, I had a visit to their forums the other day (when seeing the post here about AC) and it’s a pretty sad place…

    At the end of the day when people join servers by IP address and there’s no DDoS protection this is bound to happen. Other eSports watched by hundreds of thousands of viewers learnt this long ago. At the end of the day LAN for eSports is king and always will be. iRacing has some benefits with its walled garden approach but still isn’t infallible.

    Gran Turismo’s approach to eSports, despite it’s less than full on simulation approach to the engine, really is ideal.

    1. That’s always been the case for networked gameplay.

      I used to organise Action Quake 2 competitions. If they were run over the internet, disconnections and other irregularities were a fact of life and generally evened themselves out. If you wanted stability, you got everyone in the same place and ran the event over a LAN with a local server.

  8. Romain’s analogy doesn’t work. This would be more like retiring because the track tarmac suddenly had a huge hole in it that made the car fall into a giant abyss only to reappear hours later way back in the field.

    1. Haha, Romain is epic ignorant again. This guy..

    2. Can you explain how the impact of a car falling into an abyss to be returned hours later is different from a real life engine failure?

      1. The people running a team control the engine and can be held responsible for the failure. They, however, do not control the appearance of the abyss.

        The race organiser is in charge of having a proper playing field. Much like you’d expect a real life race organiser to provide a track that doesn’t destroy a complete Williams chassis via a loose drain cover (and hold them responsible when it does -Williams was reimbursed for the repair costs by the track), so can you hold the e-sport organiser responsible for providing a stable environment for the e-sport to happen. These are, after all, supposed to be professional events where teams with sponsors, employed drivers, and real life effort and time invested, compete for months to win a championship. Just going “ah well bad luck innit?” doesn’t quite cut it, wouldn’t you say?

        1. Just going “ah well bad luck innit?” doesn’t quite cut it, wouldn’t you say?

          How do you propose the event organisers guarantee that the internet and IT systems be infallible?
          Most of the equipment and connections involved aren’t theirs….. They aren’t even all on the same continent.
          Add the threat of attention-seeking hacking individuals who get their thrills from merely making other’s lives a misery…

          If these events were really that serious, the competitors wouldn’t hesitate to all travel to a specific place and hard-wire themselves together in a secure environment. Just like they do with a real car race – that isn’t a game.

          “ah well bad luck innit?”

          Is good enough for people who have some perspective on life. There’ll be another game to play tomorrow.

          1. How do you propose the event organisers guarantee that the internet and IT systems be infallible?

            Redundant systems, load balancing, and you can even get cloud service with global coverage. None of these things are mysteries to anyone with a semblance of system management experience, especially in the gaming space these are things that have long existed and can be managed. Considering this is a set field and not millions of users trying to use a game at the same time, I’d say it’s relatively simple, compared to most things.

          2. Well, they should have hired you then.
            I’m sure they would have if Verstappen had demanded it.

          3. They don’t have to hire me, I am not a system’s engineer. There’s literally people who’s entire jobs is managing systems like this. In video games and elsewhere. How do you think Amazon stays up during Prime Day? How do you think YouTube hosts live streams for hundreds of thousands of people simultaneously around the world? How do you think iCloud, GMail, Dropbox, and many more such services stay up 24/7. What do you think Amazon’s AWS, Microsoft’s Azure, or Google Cloud Services entire business model is based on? Why is over half the web using CloudFlare’s services?

            This really isn’t some magical unicorn. This is a literal job people get bachelor and master degrees for.

          4. How do you think…

            You mean all those companies that have multiple (hundreds of) servers dotted all over the world, and are geared from the ground up to host millions of simultaneous users all at once, non-stop, 24/7?
            Corporations whose business and income comes largely from mass internet traffic?

            Not really comparable to a (private) racing game.

            This really isn’t some magical unicorn. This is a literal job people get bachelor and master degrees for.

            You are absolutely right. It’s business – and it requires enormous investment.
            This leisure activity clearly doesn’t justify the expense – and most likely can’t afford it anyway.

          5. Oh, and even with all those bachelors and masters degrees – everything still remains imperfect.
            That’s life.

  9. The boy has grown in to a very small man.

  10. “AWS data has been used to display informative graphics during F1 broadcasts, including predicted overtaking difficulty…”

    “predicted overtaking difficulty” ?!?!?!?!
    Wow, that’s one of the dumbest things I’ve ever seen. Nothing worse than sucking every bit of life left in motorsport dry.

  11. That caption is perfect – well played, Jack!

  12. Someone could say you earn your own luck and if the game crashes it’s not your fault. Neither is engine blowing up. You just move on. Still it is sad to see them retiring like that but we are in 2023. We don’t yet have a bullet proof internet connection or online gaming.

    I want to see some pitwall footage of how much faster Magnussen was than a 1.0l Ford Fiesta

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  13. Why on earth is RF2 being used for something like this?! Talk about using something outdated, I can think of a few games I’d rather use for an online competition compared to that. I’m no fanboy of Max but he has a point, they wouldn’t even give them the laps back for the disco even though they did for other teams. I can see why he’d have a sense of humour failure about that.

    I mentioned Perez having to be careful about DR being back in the team and got roundly put down for it – I still believe there’s a danger he may not finish the season, especially if he gets vocal about a lack of support within the team. A lot will depend on how much competition RBR get this year I think. If there’s a lot of pressure on the team and DR does well in their sim/FP1 sessions, I can see Perez not finishing the season.

  14. I’m picturing a 7 year old Max Verstappen getting a red bike for his birthday and having a meltdown because he wanted a blue one.

  15. “Clown show” Edit button please.

  16. Is it a clown show because Massi wasn’t there to “fix it” ,Max?

  17. Scrolling down to the underbelly thing seems especially acidic today?

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