How Max Verstappen won the Imola GP and the Nurburgring 24hours on the same day

Alex Gassman

by Alex Gassman

Max Imola Nurburgring

Max Verstappen’s victory at the Imola Grand Prix was made even more remarkable by the fact he won the virtual Nurburgring 24-hour sim race at the same time.

To do the ‘double’ involved not just Verstappen’s world-class driving but some serious planning and out-of-the-box thinking to enable him to compete in both events at the same time.

Not only is Max Verstappen a 3-time Formula 1 world champion, he’s also one of (if not the) fastest drivers in the virtual racing world.

Max is often found competing on iRacing when he’s not racing for real in F1. He’s part of TeamRedline who are the most competitive team in the sim racing world. One of the biggest events on the sim racing calendar is the iRacing Nurburgring 24 hours which just happened to fall on the same weekend as the Imola Grand Prix.

Max was part of the 4-driver line up for TeamRedline’s entry in to the virtual race. But that was dependant on whether Max could fit it around his F1 commitments including PR, press events, team meeting and actually driving his Red Bull Formula 1 car. 

To make it work, Max would need to be able to get online and race from the F1 paddock.

The solution came in the form of a custom-built simulator rig, designed to fit into Verstappen’s motorhome at the Imola GP venue. So TeamRedline constructed a state-of-the-art sim rig that could be shipped to Imola.

Atze Kerkhoff, TeamRedline’s director, explained the logistics: “To make it happen we needed to build a sim that would fit in his motorhome. We did this with Simlab, our partner, and P1XPro and it turns out to be a very, very easy sim to put together.”

Transporting the simulator rig to Imola posed another logistical hurdle. Initially intended to be shipped in the MP Motorsport Formula 2 trailer, the rig was slightly too large. 

MP Motorsport instead found someone else heading to Imola; a local flower guy. So Max Verstappen’s state-of-the-art simulator rig was transported to Imola in a trailer carrying flowers.

Despite the unconventional transportation method the rig arrived on time and was installed in Max’s trailer. It was, however, the first time Max has used a Simucube wheel base. But it only took him two laps to get up to speed. Plus the rig included active pedals which Max could adjust to his desired feel.

@teamredlinesim Storytime on how we managed to get Max to drive in the sim during an F1 Grand Prix weekend 👀🙌 #TeamRedline #maxverstappen #nurburgring #imolagp #f1 ♬ original sound - Team Redline

One further hurdle was left, however, as a short circuit caused by another driver’s coffee machine knocked out the power to the motorhomes in the paddock.

So a member of TeamRedline had to find an uniterruptible power supply (APC) to keep the sim running in the event of more power failures. Despite looking all around the shops of Imola, in the end it turned out that Red Bull had one they could lend for Max’s sim.

Eventually Max did a 3-hour Nurburgring stint on Satuday evening just 2 hours after taking pole position in qualifying for the Imola F1 race. He did one more 2-hour stint on Sunday morning before the Grand Prix which helped his TeamRedline BMW GT3 take victory at the 24 hour event.

Red Bull Content Pool / Getty Images

But squeezing all that extra virtual racing in around his already packed Formula 1 race weekend schedule is hard work. At a press conference on Sunday, Max was visibly exhausted on the couch.

That 2-hour stint early on Sunday morning definitely took its toll, but not enough to stop Max winning the Imola Grand Prix. And team principal Christian Horner had no issue with Verstappen’s double lineup, calling Max a “racing machine”.

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Alex Gassman

I‘m Alex. I write F1 and motorsport travel guides based on my experience as racing driver and full-time motorsport nerd. I’ve traveled the world watching F1 and other racing series.

I started oversteer48 with the aim of helping other motorsport fans who are planning on watching some racing themselves.

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Join the oversteer48 F1 Insider's club

I’ll send you a weekly email with insider info on the latest F1 news and results. 
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