Newly crowned Formula One World Champion Max Verstappen has spoken of his love for sim racing during an interview with ex-F1 driver David Coulthard for CarNext.com.
Verstappen and his rather controversial father, and also ex-F1 racer, Jos Verstappen, spoke to Coulthard in Abu Dhabi the day after the infamous grand prix in the emirate which will live on forever as a trivia question and discussion topic thanks to the unique role race director Michael Masi played in deciding the championship.
Nonetheless, after a season in which he won nine other grands prix and visited the podium on eight other occasions, Verstappen has been the form driver of 2021. He delivered a first title for the Red Bull team since Vettel’s driver championship in 2013 and for Honda’s power units since Ayrton Senna and McLaren took both titles in 1991 — but couldn’t prevent Mercedes’ continued domination of the constructor title in the hybrid era.
During the interview, Coulthard delves into how Verstappen deals with the pressures and the rigors of an F1 on the circuit. However, around 26 minutes in, he asks what the Dutch driver does for “positive distraction” away from the track; Verstappen’s answer is a swift and unequivocal “Sim racing!”.
Of course, Verstappen’s love for sim racing is well-known within the sim racing community. He regularly pops up in iRacing events, and we’ve also seen him appearing as the face of various events within the F1 series of titles and even the occasional Gran Turismo event.
However, over the course of 2020’s summer of sim racing — when the world switched to virtual sport as real events were impossible to stage — Verstappen stayed glued to iRacing rather than the higher profile F1 2020 events. That means his digital exploits are something less associated with him outside sim racing circles.
Verstappen does have quite the list of achievements in the virtual environment too. Despite playing down his abilities in the interview, he represents one of the best-known sim racing esports outfits of all: Team Redline. As part of that squad, he won the iRacing Bathurst 12 Hour (with Enzo Bonito) and the iRacing Nurburgring 24h (with Max Benecke and Chris Lulham) this year.
In addition, Verstappen covers topics like vehicle set-up and driving styles — and also notes that he keeps up with his Redline team-mates during weekends when he can’t join them due to his F1 racing commitments.
It’s an interesting piece from the day after he took his first world title. We won’t spoil the full interview which you can see, cued up to the start of the sim racing chat, at the top of the page.
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