F1 champion Verstappen to race in virtual Le Mans 24 Hours

Max Verstappen will try to add a virtual Le Mans 24 Hours triumph to the Formula One world championship he won in Abu Dhabi in December.

The 24-year-old Dutch driver will be up against some top names from the world of motor racing and esports in the January 15-16 event.

Spainโ€™s reigning IndyCar champion Alex Palou is in the field along with double Indianapolis 500 winner and former F1 racer Juan Pablo Montoya, Dutch two-times F1 esports champion Jarno Opmeer and an all-female W-Series team. Double Formula One world champion and two-times Le Mans winner Fernando Alonso is non-driving captain of the Alpine esports team.

Red Bullโ€™s Verstappen, who won the F1 title with a controversial last lap overtake of Mercedesโ€™ seven-times world champion Lewis Hamilton, entered the virtual endurance race in 2020 with McLarenโ€™s Lando Norris.

They were leading for Team Redline when a frozen screen led to a collision with eventual winners Rebellion-Williams Esports. Verstappenโ€™s pro team-mate this time is Swedish IndyCar driver Felix Rosenqvist.

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The virtual Le Mans 24 Hours is broadcast live on YouTube, Twitch and Facebook and uses the rFactor2 platform, with racers competing on simulators around the world for a USD 125,000 winnersโ€™ prize.

The five-race Le Mans Virtual series has an overall prize pool of USD 250,000.

The inaugural 2020 version, created to fill a gap after the real 24 Hours was postponed and held behind closed doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic, was watched by more than 14 million viewers.

The virtual 2022 edition had been scheduled as a live event to be held at the Autosport International Show in Birmingham, England, but that was postponed due to the continuing pandemic.

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