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Max Verstappen rages at Le Mans Virtual organizers for “incompetence”

“I’m never competing again”, says F1 World Champion
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The latest virtual 24 Hours of Le Mans event was fraught with technical difficulties: Stutters were visible throughout the broadcast, the race had to be interrupted with red flags for several hours on two occasions due to attacks on the servers, disconnects were frequent, and a confusing ruleset led to even more frustration.

Reigning F1 World Champion Max Verstappen, a very passionate sim racer, also participated in the event and suffered from these issues, falling out of contention for the win due to disconnects. He took to Discord after the event to vent his anger at the organizers, calling the race a “disgrace for the sim racing community and all big brands and drivers involved.”

“This is not the first time we do this. I’ve literally been disconnected [from] 3 out of 4 events. You might think after the 1st or 2nd time you learn. But this is just a disaster”, he continued.

He went on to strongly criticize the rFactor 2 platform, which was used by the organizers to host the race: “The Le Mans organization should really look at what they want moving forward. Because doing it on this platform is a clown show. I’m never competing again and that’s all down to your incompetence. I hope many people will follow my lead and we can build something nice somewhere else. Because all of us teams, brands and drivers deserve it.”

Verstappen’s disappointment is mirrored by the community’s own, with many sim racing fans echoing his sentiment, especially regarding rFactor 2. The Dutchman’s hope to “build something nice somewhere else” is likely a reference to another big sim racing platform called iRacing that is very popular for competitions and might serve as a replacement in the future.

Poster for the virtual 24 Hours of Le Mans race.

The virtual 24 Hours of Le Mans 2023 was ripe with controversy.

Motorsport Games, which purchased the developer of rFactor 2 in 2019, is officially licensed to publish games featuring racing series like NASCAR and Indycar, and hold the virtual Le Mans events. This practically gives the company a stranglehold over the official Le Mans name when it comes to sim racing competitions.

While rFactor 2 is very robust for driving on your own, the continuous problems with big events have made it clear that the online features are simply not up to the task, whereas iRacing is known to be far more stable for multiplayer races, having successfully hosted races with hundreds of participants in the past.

Former F1 driver Romain Grosjean, who is also a technical advisor for Motorsport Games, defended the event, likening server disconnects to engine failures. However, many fans and even fellow drivers immediately pointed out that those things are not really comparable.

Grosjean’s team R8G Esports took first place in the event’s GTE category, while Team Redline’s car #2 featuring Formula 2 champ Felipe Drugovich, Indycar race winner Felix Rosenqvist, Luke Bennett, and Chris Lulham won the LMP category.