Verstappen is installing a simracing rig in his private jet – Marko

2023 F1 season

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Max Verstappen is installing a simracing rig on his private jet, according to Red Bull’s motorsport consultant Helmut Marko.

The two-times world champion is an avid simracer and competes in top-level competitions for Team Redline. He was recently frustrated by connection problems at the Virtual Le Mans 24 Hours which led to him branding the event a “clown show”, but remains keen to practice whenever he can, according to former F1 driver Marko.

“He even had his private plane converted so that he can fly a simulator in the air in the future,” Marko told Sport1.

Verstappen’s enthusiasm for virtual racing is “a good thing”, Marko added, “because Max needs this distraction. In any case, it didn’t do him any harm when it came to his two titles.”

Travelling to the record-breaking 23 grands prix on the 2023 F1 calendar will give Verstappen plenty of opportunities to get extra practice in. Just nine of this year’s races take place inside Europe.

Verstappen acquired his Dassault Falcon 900EX in late 2020, the year before he won his first world championship. The 15-year-old jet bears a custom livery featuring Verstappen’s graphics and lion logo.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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72 comments on “Verstappen is installing a simracing rig in his private jet – Marko”

  1. This always is my biggest concern about Max. Lewis is far better in this area. Anyone need something other than his daily work routine to rejuvenate own minds.

    1. Yeah, but they are not you and me, but top athletes. They know how to extract the maximum out of themselves and for every athlete it will be achieved in a different manner. This particular example is a worry for competitors of him: Talent plus hours training equals inevitable.

      1. Well he’s 25 now, and still one-dimensional like this. Obviously his fans are okay with it, but it has to mean he only has fans of a certain kind.

        1. and you know that because you spend a lot of time with him?

    2. This is why it’s never smart to brush everyone with the same stroke. Max likes racing and gaming, so Max races and games, that’s not all Max does, but that’s what he enjoys doing. Good on him, got him two driving titles and apparently he’s not too shabby at sim racing either.

    3. They just like different things, and it seems that Max likes his job more, which was always his hobby anyway. Personal preferences… In any case, I don’t care about their personal lives, I say let’s leave that to them.

    4. I am frankly stunned at my first return to this site for a while (member)

      I can recall stunning level of animosity and total hatred Hamilton got just for having a jet.. far later in his career than max and guided by a guy who owned an Airline!

      To the extent he took the vegan route and sold the thing and flies commercial with all that entails. Anyone out there spend just one year flying commercial each week?

      No guessed not.

      Max V fits a sim in his jet and it’s philosophical discussions about ‘well it helps and he likes both’ maybe it’s good and bad and etc etc?

      Jeez the sheer ludicrous hypocrisy on here.

      1. Personally

        I would have a Sim on my jet if I was Max.

        Frankly – why not?

  2. So why has no one as yet vilified max for owning a private jet? Is it because he is white? Lewis owned and sold his jet and yet people still comment about Lewis owning a jet… Just an observation

    1. So why has no one as yet vilified max for owning a private jet? Is it because he is white?

      It’s because Verstappen doesn’t make out that he has the right to tell everyone else how to live their lives, while simultaneously living the life he is advocating against.

    2. No, it’s because Lewis was doing this:

      He was known to fly around the world with it and bore a custom G-LCDH tag which stood for his full name: Lewis Carl Davidson Hamilton. His ownership of the jet was a source of controversy. In 2016, the British F1 star was named in the infamous Paradise Papers. NBC reports that the leaked documents showed Hamiliton had “avoided paying more than $4 million in taxes for a private jet,” after importing the jet to the Isle of Man in 2013. To respond to these claims, his lawyers released a statement stating that registering the jet in the Isle of Man, a well-known tax haven, is legal.

    3. Imho that comes from Lewis advocating green values and lots of others as where Max hasn’t expressed anything beyond motorsport which what he is here to do. I don’t mind not hearing him on these matters as it is a personal thing which can just as well be kept private. Or you vent it like Lewis, that’s everyone’s own choice. When you express it, you have to put your money where your mouth is and people can address ‘you didn’t do so in the past’, on which you can reply ‘but I am doing it now’ and every bit helps. All the flying is pretty functional within the F1 circus (you can always make a choice not to participate at all if you are bothered by the footprint) so if some guys do it privately then that is comparable to people taking their car to work rather than the bus.

    4. Max isn’t hypocritical and doesn’t spout virtue signalling nonsense. Ranting about billionaires while having hundreds of millions in your pocket, instead of giving it back to people like you preach on social media, is just pathetic.

    5. Gavin Campbell
      26th January 2023, 15:49

      I think the fact he dodged tax was the biggest issue. And to the Lawyer there are tax reduction schemes that are legal and then there is willful tax avoidance which is illegal. The ownership of the private jet and the structures used were controversial and were only known once leaked. The scheme was investigated by HMRC as once exposed it wasn’t viewed as legal (they don’t publish outcomes, settlements and fines unless if goes to court). It was basically using phoney companies to lease the jet back to himself and avoid VAT (standard purchase tax of 20%) and the Isle of Man were willfully not collecting the tax.

      The environmental damage is also a concern especially when he espoused such values but I felt more that he brought that up when he sold the jet. I don’t remember him being singled out for private jet usage.

      Finally with Lewis the thing to remember is Max Verstappen is a F1 driver and is only interested in being a F1 driver. Lewis has always been much more widley known outside of racing circles with heavy social media use, fashion and so on. Therefore that will always come with more media scrutiny than Max’s approach of “only” being a racing driver.

  3. My point has been proven thanks guys… Lol! hahaha! Talk about stepping in it… What a joke.

    1. I guess you didn’t like hearing the other people’s arguments?

    2. What was your point?
      That Hamilton purchased a private jet, abused the tax system with it and made himself look particularly two-faced about many of the things he preaches, and then sold it? Yeah. He did.

      If you don’t respond, I’ll just have to assume it was that you truly don’t understand the difference between the two, and genuinely wanted to know why people label Hamilton a hypocrite.
      So now you know.

      1. abused the tax system

        He did not. He bought the jet in a way that minimised his tax exposure legally, as many other wealthy people do. He did nothing wrong. He used the tax system to his advantage and good on him for doing so.

        Paying tax is a legal obligation, not a moral one. I’m a lawyer by the way…and I spend a good deal of my life thinking about how to save my clients money with efficient tax structuring.

        1. Paying tax is just as much a moral thing as a legal one, unless you need an excuse to pump the system for everything it is worth, like for example if it is your job.

          “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!”

          Upton Sinclair

          1. Indeed, the worst advice of all comes from a salesman who profits from the sale.

            Imagine truly believing that being a functioning part of a coherent society doesn’t come with a moral obligation to support it…
            And lawyers wonder why they are often compared to cockroaches.

          2. I support my society by working hard and contributing in my small way to a key industry…and raising my children to be balanced human beings. Funds companies (all companies by the way) save in tax are used to fund the things they actually do, so think about whether you want more funds in tax or more companies making things and providing services.

            To annoy S even more…I live in a country where I pay no income tax. :p

          3. so think about whether you want more funds in tax or more companies making things and providing services.

            Do those companies provide community services for all people at no additional (user pays) cost?
            Do they provide education and healthcare to everyone? Do they build and maintain roads? Do they offer amenities such as public toilets, playgrounds and entertainment venues? Do they fund sporting and entertainment events for the public to enjoy?

            If the answer to any of those is no, then I’d prefer the money in tax where it can benefit everyone.
            Corruption is rife in both public and private systems, but at least the public system is able to be scrutinised by everyone, and provides (roughly) the same benefits to all regardless of who they are or how much they earn.

            It doesn’t annoy me at all if your country doesn’t require you to pay income tax. I have no interest in telling other governments how they should run their country. It doesn’t affect me and it’s not my place to interfere.
            Bringing it back to F1 – let’s hope F1 drivers afford those governments the same respect from now on, which is what the FIA are asking them to do.

          4. I support my society by working hard and contributing in my small way

            The smallest way possible, by the sound of things.

            and raising my children to be balanced human beings.

            If you are teaching them to be tax dodgers, then hopefully they’ll at least provide some other meaningful benefits to society to offset that.
            Teach them some Japanese culture. It’ll do them a world of good.
            Rule no.1 – The group is always more important than the individual….

          5. Those tax loopholes and havens are put in by the very politicians who vilify people for taking advantage of them.

            There is no “moral obligation” to pay taxes. Tithes, perhaps, but not taxes. If the government gives you a legal way to pay less taxes, and the government serves at the will of the people, it could be argued that you should, morally, follow the will of the people and pay less tax.

            If the people, or the government, truly wanted these schemes to stop, they’d change the law.

            The most egregious “recent” (10 years ago now) example was Cameron sticking his head out a G20 summit to publicly castigate Jimmy Carr for taking advantage of a tax loophole– something Cameron has since apologized for, probably because it was pointed out that he inherited significantly more money from his father due to offshore holdings that weren’t subject to inheritance tax.

            Moral outrage over tax avoidance comes from two sources: Those who’ve done it and don’t want to be caught, and those who can’t afford to avoid paying taxes.

          6. Almost sounds like you are rationalising and excusing greed simply because the option is available there, grat.
            If you don’t feel a moral obligation to provide for others, then that says plenty about you.

            I’ll put forward a third reason for being ‘outraged’ over tax avoidance – because doing so goes against the basic principles of modern, organised society and basic human generosity and caring for others.
            It’s putting yourself (an individual) and your own personal desires above the needs of everyone else.
            You seriously can’t expect to get away with the promotion of such selfishness and greed without someone questioning your motives.
            Your two examples are both (unsurprisingly) entirely focused on the self, and not at all on the effect doing so has on everyone else.

        2. The abuse starts much earlier, when wealthy special interests use their undue political influence to get such loopholes inserted or maintained, preferably in ways that only they can exploit, for example by it requiring complex legal schemes.

        3. If you asked people to list professions in terms of morality, Lawyer would be pretty close to the bottom of the list… Somewhere near Politician.
          Using (interesting choice of word, by the way) the tax system to an individual’s advantage goes against the point of having the tax system at all. It’s not there to benefit the individual, it’s there to benefit everyone.
          All Hamilton did was save more money for himself by withholding it from others.
          Legal it may have been – but morally correct it was not.

          And the silliest part of it all is that he probably paid his lawyers almost as much as he would have spent on tax anyway.

          1. Fully agree. Tax evasion means you have no interest in society. It is a huge source of corruption and therefore poverty in the world. These are the people that maintain inequality and prohibit the world from evolving for the good of all. People like Hamilton should think before they speak. Values are not a fashion item.

        4. Andy (@andyfromsandy)
          26th January 2023, 11:33

          People without large sums of money get all het up about those that can and do use the tax system to minimise how much they pay. Clearly Lewis went in for tax avoidance as opposed to tax evasion.

          The drivers mostly all live in Monaco for exactly the same reason.

          1. Andy (@andyfromsandy)
            26th January 2023, 11:35

            If Verstappen pays anywhere near what the Netherlands tax take is for those that live there I would be highly surprised.

          2. @andyfromsandy He lives in Monaco, so he won’t pay tax in the Netherlands.

        5. What is moral and what is legal do not always line up. For example, cheating on your partner is legal but not moral.

    3. Jack (@jackisthestig)
      26th January 2023, 16:07

      Well lots of people tend jump in when someone wrongly starts throwing around daft accusations.

  4. How does Lewis get to and from races these days if he doesn’t have the jet anymore? Toto’s? Commercially? How many, if any drivers fly commercially?

    1. @bernasaurus As far as I’m aware the drivers and senior team staffers fly in on private jets which they charter from various companies (netjets and the like).

  5. Got to laugh haven’t you? not even 2 hours in and the Ham bashing about he’s Jet and stuff…..Man how I miss the internet pre Facebook days lol….

    1. petebaldwin (@)
      26th January 2023, 9:17

      There hasn’t been any from what I can see. One Lewis fan didn’t understand why Lewis has been criticised for owning a private jet whilst Max hasn’t so that was explained to him but that’s about it….

      1. Hmm, I wouldn’t say that, there currently going through hes Tax returns above lol…I’ll pop back later to see what there discussing about him in an article that has no mention of him ;-)

        1. A question was asked about Hamilton, and then it was answered.
          Is that alright with you?

          What was your comment about? Not even F1 or people who participate in it, but some anonymous people talking on a website….

          1. Hmmm, ‘not even F1’ where have to agree to disagree on that one :-)

  6. Very “Green”. Net Zero in F1 is a con.

  7. Kerosine powered entertainment on private planes to tax havens… whoever came up with the carbon neutral F1 by 2030 initiative mus be loving this.

    1. Mehhh, it’s not Max’s job to fulfill a goal F1 set under outside pressure or sudden morality (only a fool actually thinks they want to lead that change for the sake of doing so).

      About his simulator, i’d argue it is efficient, since he’s flying regardless. Why not use the time for something he enjoys and keeps him sharp for F1? Besides, this idea of it existing is awesome in it’s own right.

  8. Speaks volumes about his good & perfectly useful hobby.

  9. I made a statement and all the diatribe proved my point. This post lit up after i made my point which was exactly my point….

    1. Well, I hope that makes sense to you.

    2. You’re never gonna tell what your point was suposed to be, are you?

  10. Note to commenters: This article is about Max Verstappen, the way he has equipped his private aircraft, and Helmut Marko’s comments on that information. It’s important to note that no other driver is mentioned. I wonder what will spring to mind?

    1. There is a Hungarian F1 forum where almost every single topic ends in bashing M. Schumacher.

      1. @f1mre Quite right too.

        1. I meant Michael, not Mick. I totally forgot M. Schumacher could mean someone else than Michael.

      2. Coventry Climax
        27th January 2023, 0:34

        Rightfully so. Senior and junior, I take it?

  11. I’d call this fairly pointless but it’s his money to waste.

  12. Well, from a Red Bull perspective is a win win for them that Max hobby is sim racing. He will always be sharp and in a very safe environment. Imagine if Max chose as a hobby downhill skiing, skydiving , cycling or motocross. The risks of injuries would be much higher. As for him having a sim rig on his plane… if he has the means, it’s smart. I can only imagine how many hours the drivers spent on an airplane every year. It looks a great idea.

    1. Yeah, I agree. Continuing his training and relaxing while travelling is really sensible.
      It’s wasted time, otherwise.

  13. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    26th January 2023, 14:30

    Hmm, how often does he fly to warrant that?

    Let’s say he goes to 25 places and the average flight is 3 hours. He has to eat, sleep, talk for about 50% of the time.

    That leaves 1.5 hours * 25 trips * 2 (for the roundtrip). That’s 75 hours a year.

    Mostly this will come in handy on trips to Australia, Americas, and Asia assuming the jet has that range (for Australia)

    The alternatives
    1. Have Red Bull install the rig at every hotel allowing him to play more
    2. Install a PS5/Xbox Series X or PS5 VR2 on the plane so he’s not bored
    3. Game on an Alienware Laptop with a Nvidia 4090 Mobile installed

    1. Good maths.

      It takes 20 hours alone to fly from Europe to Australia, 40 hours round, but sure. 75 hours a year sounds about right to me.

  14. Stephen Higgins
    26th January 2023, 15:04

    Just as long as they don’t get the controls cross-wired, I think it’ll be fine…

  15. I get nausea reading a book in a car. Sim racing on a plane, that has got to muddle the brain a bit.

    1. I think he’ll only be transporting the sim. They’ve just allocated space and mounting points for the duration of the flights I think.

      1. @f1mre ahhhh……… I feel stupid now. I literally thought he was going to drive it whilst in the air. I’ve totally misunderstood. That makes way more sense. I was thinking that though planes do plane to travel at level flight, that isn’t the case. Whilst the plane is banking and you’re going through Eau Rouge, would be a queezy experience. Sorry, I got it completely wrong.

        1. You were right, 3rd paragraph says sim is on plane, I agree about the motion sickness though, imagine the work the inner ear, eyes and brain are doing just to make sense of it. Think id last about 2 minutes before the plane became like NASA’s vomit comet lol.
          But I suspect it could be Marko doing a bit of leg pulling for a laugh to see how far the story travels, full racing rig on a plane seems a bit far fetched.
          Was just about to hit post and thought id double check by reading it again for maybe the 5th time and didn’t spot it….Give the 3rd paragraph another read, classic case of the brain see’s what it expects to be there :-)

          1. “He even had his private plane converted so that he can fly a simulator in the air in the future,” Marko told Sport1.

            I’m beginning to think its April 1st. It might be interesting to see what happens though, if sim racers and aircraft were combined? If the plane went into descent – would you brake or accelerate? If the plane banked to the left, would you turn the wheel right? “careful turbulence at Les Combes”.

            It would be so weird on your senses. Up-Down-Left-Right, but two different things not collaborating. I think Marko is joking also. I think Max would give it a go though. Then be sick.

          2. Yeah imagine half way through a race the plane gets put in your control.

            Race Control to Driver- Code Brown in 3,2,1

  16. Some of the comments on this are surprising. So much angry. Building a $50k sim rig in a $10M jet is not excessive and it makes good sense for him to do so. Why are you so upset?

    1. @ryanoceros Monkey see another monkey with a bigger banana. Monkey gets frustraded

  17. I have an opinion
    27th January 2023, 8:42

    That’s nothing special. I’ve had a flight simulator installed on my private racing rig for ages.

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