A new edition of the virtual 24 Hours of Le Mans is scheduled for this weekend. Max Verstappen is on behalf of Team Redline, just like two years ago. Then Verstappen drove in one team with Lando Norris, but the McLaren driver is not present at this race. Still, there are plenty of names to watch out for and in this preview of F1Maximum find out everything about the upcoming virtual 24 hours of Le Mans.
It is the second time that the virtual 24 Hours of Le Mans will be held on the software rFactor 2. It was created in 2020, after the real 24 Hours of Le Mans was postponed due to the corona pandemic. In this way the drivers could still participate in the oldest and most prestigious race in the world. All drivers can participate from home and do not have to come together that way. There was no online edition last year.
How does the virtual 24 Hours of Le Mans work?
Each team has four drivers available for the virtual 24 hours. For example, Verstappen is in a team with Felix Rosenqvist, Maximilian Benecke and Atze Kerkhof. Each team must have a minimum of two drivers registered with the FIA. It is also important to know that a driver is not allowed to drive longer than four hours during the race with a total of seven hours. It is also mandatory to make pit stops for fuel, tires and a driver change.
Furthermore, as in the previous edition, there will be two different classes, namely the Le Mans Prototype (LMP) and Grand Touring Endurance (GTE). Each LMP team drives an Oreca 07 and GTE teams can choose from a Porsche 911 RSR, BMW M8, Ferrari 488 GTE, Corvette C8.R or Aston Martin Vantage. A total of fifty teams will participate, of which 29 in the LMP class and 21 in the GTE class. We see Verstappen appearing in the LMP class on behalf of 123 Team Redline.
Eduardo Freitas, race director of the FIA World Endurance Championship, has been appointed to ensure that everything runs smoothly. With his twenty years of experience, he is no stranger to the motorsport world. During the 24 hours, Freitas’ job is to make sure the virtual race runs smoothly. There is a lot at stake for the drivers, namely a prize pool of 220,000 euros. That will be very interesting, especially for the more unknown drivers.
What kind of drivers do it?
During the very first edition, we saw many famous names at the start of the 24-hour race. For example, Pierre Gasly participated for Veloce eSports 1 and was therefore part of a team with Jarno Opmeer. The Dutch sim racer won both last year, on behalf of Mercedes, and the year before, on behalf of Alfa Romeo, the Formula 1 Sports Series. Before that, Opmeer was in the junior program of Renault (now Alpine, ed.). He will also be present during the next 24 hours.
Last year we also saw names like Giedo van der Garde, Jenson Button and Charles Leclerc on the online circuit, and that is just a small selection. This year there are a lot of lesser known names to be seen. In addition to Verstappen, Bent Viscaal (Floyd by Kolles-Burst) and Beitske Visser (MAHLE RACING TEAM) participate in the virtual 24 Hours of Le Mans. Visser finished eighth in the W Series last season, while Viscaal did not go further than a fourteenth final classification in Formula 2.
Where did Verstappen end last edition?
In the very first edition, Verstappen’s team qualified fifth for the virtual 24 Hours of Le Mans. A good starting position for the race, and it showed again, because in the early part of the race, Team Redline was on course for first place. Then it went abruptly wrong, as Verstappen was tapped by another driver around midnight after problems with the servers. As a result, the Dutchman crashed and that caused a small rage outburst.
Still, Team Redline finally decided to give it another try after it was announced that some issues would have been resolved. Any chance of a win was long gone by then. At that time, both Verstappen and Norris were no longer in action for the team. In the end, the team did not go further than place 25 in the final standings, while it started the 24 hours so well.
It was the Rebellion Williams eSports team that took the win in the LMP class. With Louis Delétraz they had an acquaintance from Formula 2. In the GTE class, the Germany Porsche eSports Team was the fastest. That will have made little difference to Verstappen. The Red Bull driver will especially want to wash away his sour aftertaste in the second edition of the virtual 24 Hours of Le Mans.
When will the virtual 24 Hours of Le Mans be shown?
On Friday 14 January, the drivers will first start a qualifying session at 7 pm Dutch time. This will determine the starting grid for the race, which will start on Saturday, January 15 at 2 PM Dutch time. We won’t know who won the virtual 24 Hours of Le Mans until Sunday, January 16 at 2 PM Dutch time. Don’t miss anything from Verstappen’s actions? Through a live blog that will appear on Saturday 15 January around 1 pm we keep track of everything F1Maximum.