Criticism Verstappen kills 24 hours of Le Mans

Max Verstappen brands virtual Le Mans a failure

15 January 2023 at 19:55
Last update 15 January 2023 at 20:12

Ever since Max Verstappen became an established name in Formula 1, sponsors have been lining up for him. The exact amounts remain secret, of course, but they amount to many millions. Why? Being associated as a company with one of the world's most popular athletes can give your brand a huge boost. The reverse is also possible. The organisers of the virtual 24 Hours of Le Mans may well experience that in the near future.

At the end of the last century, Buckler beer was on sale in the Netherlands. It was a non-alcoholic beer, which the very popular cabaret performer Youp van 't Hek hated. During one of his theatre shows, he hacked away at Buckler over and over again, leaving the audience flat with laughter. What Van 't Hek appeared not to realise at the time was the impact of his jokes. The audience went home and by now had created the image for themselves that Buckler was indeed unpalatable.

Off the market

After a few months - after Van 't Hek had toured the country and his show had been shown on television - the brewery noticed a huge drop in sales. Eventually, the company decided to take Buckler off the market. The image damage was too great, no marketing campaign could compete with that.

The organisers of the big-announced, virtual 24 Hours of Le Mans are undoubtedly not familiar with the Buckler brand. Yet the French should be worried about a similar impact, after Max Verstappen verbally slammed them during the tumultuous race. The sim race had already been forced to halt twice due to a server problem. For Verstappen, the last straw was that the game simply tipped him and his Team Redline out of the game, making a good final ranking impossible thanks to technical problems through no fault of the drivers.

Clown show

"This is a joke, you can't even call this an event. What a clown show," Verstappen said in front of his webcam. "I have a better chance of winning if I go to the casino in Las Vegas." He then promised never to participate in the event again. If it comes around again, at least. Indeed, the problems were so great that self-respecting drivers will no doubt think three times before signing up for another edition.

After all, what is the point of spending months training for a race, whose organisers cannot even guarantee 24-hour participation? Then again, when the Formula 1 world champion, the most important racing class in the world, expresses his total disgust with the organisation, it is anything but good publicity.

There are several platforms on which such sim races are played. Reportedly - because at least so it was read in comments online - the platform on which the Le Mans 24 Hours was played was not known to be reliable. In other words: Problems were to be expected. Surely, in that knowledge, the alarm bells should have gone off at the organisers. But no, they did not make any adjustments beforehand. Possibly it is now too late and the 24 Hours of Le Mans is the new Buckler.