LONDON (Reuters) – Max Verstappen flew to Australia last month for a race that was cancelled but the Red Bull Formula One driver will get some virtual Aussie action on Wednesday as a wildcard in the V8 Supercars All-Stars Eseries.
With Formula One’s season stalled by the new coronavirus pandemic, and the March 15 opener in Melbourne called off after everyone had arrived, the 22-year-old Dutchman has kept busy online.
Verstappen’s number 33 will be on a virtual 5.0-litre V8-powered Red Bull Holden decked up in his Formula One car’s livery for the second round of the virtual series.
“I’m looking forward to the race. It’s going to be a challenge as it’s not a car I’ve driven a lot on the sim, but they are pretty cool to watch in real life,” said Verstappen in a Red Bull preview.
“We always race with Supercars (supporting) in Melbourne so it’s going to be interesting to see how I get on against all the regular drivers. I’ve tried the Supercar now a few times on iRacing and it’s a very tricky car to get right.”
Verstappen also looked forward to taking on friend and real life regular Shane van Gisbergen, whom he has nicknamed ‘Pastor’ in a reference to Venezuelan former F1 driver and frequent crasher Pastor Maldonado.
The second round features two races each at the virtual Silverstone and Barcelona circuits.
Verstappen became Formula One’s youngest ever winner when he triumphed at the Circuit de Catalunya aged 18 in 2016. But, as New Zealander van Gisbergen reminded him, Maldonado took his only win there in 2010.
“He’s fast and he knows these tracks well, so I expect to see him at the front,” said the Kiwi of Verstappen.
“Just like he races in an F1, he’s aggressive and won’t back down against anyone, so it will be great to have him on the grid this week.”
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin; Editing by Ken Ferris)