LONDON (Reuters) – Sebastian Vettel has never been one for social media or had much time for esports but even the four-times world champion has shifted his stance, however slightly, under Formula One’s coronavirus lockdown.
Although the 32-year-old Ferrari driver is still not remotely tempted by Twitter or Instagram, he has acquired a gaming rig. Just how much the German uses it remains to be seen.
Rivals, including his Monegasque team mate Charles Leclerc, who has thrown himself enthusiastically into virtual racing in the absence of any real life track action, can probably rest easy though.
“The truth is I didn’t have a simulator until a couple of days ago so I have not been tempted because I didn’t have the chance,” Vettel told reporters when asked in an online media session about any interest in esports.
“I have heard a lot of things about so I thought I might get one and try it, but I need to still set it up properly,” he added.
Leclerc, a two-times winner last season who also finished ahead of Vettel in the standings, won the virtual Vietnamese Grand Prix this month on his debut in the new Formula One esports race series.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Alexander Albon, McLaren’s Lando Norris, Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi and the Williams pairing of George Russell and Nicholas Latifi have also kept their hands in online as they wait for the season to start.
Seven Formula One races have been postponed so far and organisers are talking of a reduced calendar possibly running into January.
“Generally I’m not going to foresee a career in sim racing,” said Vettel.
“I think it’s more something to try for fun. I grew up with some of the stuff and I’ve been playing some games but to be honest since I had kids it’s not the first thing on my list to do,” added the father of three.
“I’m aware that some people take it very seriously and spend a lot of time there but I also enjoy doing other things.”
Vettel and former team mate Kimi Raikkonen, now with Alfa Romeo and the oldest driver on the grid at 40, are similar in that they both live in Switzerland and guard their privacy closely.
The Ferrari driver made clear he was not about to develop a Twitter following.
“I have not progressed on social media,” he said. “I didn’t have the time. It’s something I never started so it doesn’t feel like I miss it.”
(Editing by Peter Rutherford)