Formula 1 Champion Max Verstappen has found himself in a bit of on-track drama, but this time in the virtual world of racing.
With the F1 in its off-season, the Belgian driver competed in the virtual Le Mans event over the weekend.
The event hosted a mix of real-world racing stars as well as renowned Esports drivers, however, the 2023 edition faced a tonne of connection issues.
The Red Bull star lined up for Team Redline for the event and has spoken in the past about how important the race was to him.
But things certainly didn’t go to plan.
Verstappen was leading the race before connection issues plagued the tournament as his screen went black and he was removed from the game.
📺 | Virtual 24h of Le Mans retirement:— RBR News 🇳🇱🇲🇽 (@redbulletin) January 15, 2023
Max had to sadly retire (with mutual agreement between all 4 drivers of car #1) with 5.45h to go.
A server disconnection caused loss of P1 and a 64s gap lead, and being bumped to P15 after returning and not being given the lost laps back. pic.twitter.com/14OGUoEsSX
Upon returning connection he had dropped down to 17th place and lost a lap and a half.
The issues persisted later in the race and ultimately led to Team Redline and the pro driver withdrawing from the competition.
Verstappen was understandably fuming with the outcome and called for his Twitch viewers to ‘uninstall the game’.
He said on stream: “They can’t even control their own game.
“This is already the third time this has happened to me, getting kicked off the game while doing this race. It’s also the last time I’m ever participating, because what’s the point?
“You prepare for five months to try to win this championship, you’re leading the championship, you’re trying to win this race that you’ve been preparing for two months, and they handle it like this.
“There have been two red flags, they cancelled the rain, because probably that’s already a big influence, and people are still getting disconnected, and at one point we were also hit by it, and they’re just not dealing with it, because they need even more people to disconnect.
“Honestly, it’s a joke. You cannot call this an event. [It’s a] clown show.”
He then claimed he would never compete in the game again.
He continued: “It’s a disgrace for all the effort we have put in as a team.
“I really hope the organisers consider where they put this race going forward because on this platform it’s not going to work.
“It’s game over. I think I have more chance if I go to Vegas and go to the casino, I have more chance to win. I think I’m going to uninstall the game. That’s nice… frees up a bit of space on the PC anyway. And I really hope everyone uninstalls the game.”
The two-time Formula 1 champion later double-downed on his criticism with a statement on Discord in which he called the race a ‘disgrace to the sim racing community’.
Gerard Neveu, the Executive Producer of the Le Mans Virtual Series told SPORTbible: "There’s no denying that we had technical issues during the event but 37 of the 45 cars finished the 24-hour race (a better rate of attrition than last year), and everyone else who had disconnection problems restarted.
"We completely understand everyone’s frustrations, and will be doing a detailed analysis on why the problems occurred and how to prevent them from happening again.
"As you can see from the release, we’ve had many, many hours of successful racing on the rFactor2 platform, including the 2022 race which had no problems at all, so there has to be a balance to what was understandably a from-the-heart reaction from a leading competitor."
Featured Image Credit: @elmejordelresto/Twitter.
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