May 17 - Max Verstappen has hit back at those criticising him for entering an online sim race this weekend - clashing with the Formula 1 race at Imola.

On the track, Red Bull's rivals appear to be closing in - with Lando Norris winning in Miami in the heavily-upgraded McLaren, and now Ferrari unveiling a visibly-changed car at Imola.

"Don't trust the appearance," Ferrari's Charles Leclerc smiled on Thursday. "What you see doesn't always translate directly into lap time."

Verstappen's teammate Sergio Perez told the media he was in the Red Bull simulator after Miami, where "I think we realised we had chosen some wrong settings, which had a huge impact on our speed in the race".

As for Verstappen, he shrugged when he was asked if Ferrari and McLaren getting closer is at least making his "challenge" in 2024 more exciting.

"It's never boring for me," the Dutchman insisted. "I don't need another team or another driver to have a challenge. It's always a challenge for me."

But some might think it's far too much of a challenge for the triple world champion to be splitting his time between his F1 duties at Imola and his state-of-the-art simulator setup in his on-site motorhome.

Verstappen has signed up to take part in Team Redline's participation in the online 24-hour Nurburgring race this weekend - in the virtual racing world.

When asked if he's bitten too much off, he insisted: "I do this often."

In fact, earlier in 2024, Verstappen was racing online until the early hours of the mornings during the Saudi Arabian GP weekend.

Verstappen played that down: "I was trying to stay in the European time zone a bit, going to bed at four in the morning and getting up late."

But this weekend, he will obviously be in the real European timezone, meaning late night simulator driving might be seen as a major distraction.

"It depends a bit on how it works out," Verstappen said when asked if he'll definitely be taking part in the virtual race.

"I don't have a lot of time on Saturday night and during the day it is of course difficult. But I will go to bed on time, because I have to start (the grand prix) on Sunday with enough rest."

He also denied that it's arguably unprofessional to not fully focus on F1 this weekend.

"I think I'm professional enough to see what is and is not possible," the triple world champion insisted. "And you can't decide what people want to do on a Saturday night, can you?

"Others might go out for dinner or whatever. It's my free time."

As for the criticism, Verstappen answered: "I don't care. With so many years of experience, I know what to do."

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2 F1 Fan comments on “Verstappen Fires Back: Online Racing No Distraction for F1

  1. Susan

    It appears, Max, is happiest when just racing in any format. Leave him alone. Be grateful, he could become a fashion designer in his free time.

  2. shroppyfly

    I can see that the Sim racing can help with his reaction time, What the eyes see, What the brain says to do , and then What the feet or hands do, its gotta make his reaction times quicker for F1, and its a generation thing, hes grown up on the games console way of life, myself I didn't grow up in that era, but i get it, and Isn't there Money involved to in this Sim Racing thingamabob? Fashion designer hehehehe, nice touch Susan


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