Max Verstappen has explained why participating in the virtual Le Mans is an important venture for him.
With some weeks remaining until the 2023 F1 season gets underway, Verstappen is set to get behind the wheel of his sim-racing rig to race in the event on 14-15 January, having taken part since its inception in 2020.
The Dutchman claimed pole during the 2022 proceedings, but crashed out of the race while leading.
This time around, Verstappen is determined that his Team Redline squad can claim victory.
Verstappen: Winning virtual Le Mans 'very important'
"I started racing [in video games] with a controller way back when I was four or five years old," Verstappen told the Washington Post.
"I don't really have a lot of free time anymore to compete in big sim races, but this one is very important to me and the team – and we're hoping for a great weekend to bring home the win."
When asked why the Le Mans event is particularly important to him, the Red Bull driver explained: "Well, I love endurance racing in general, I love the track, and I just
like good competition.
"A lot of great teams are participating, so all of that comes together to make this a very fun race for me."
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Verstappen insists that his crash at the 2022 race is not necessarily the cause of his desire to win.
"These things happen in Formula 1, too. You'll crash, and people will ask, 'Are you looking for payback or redemption?'" he said.
"But I never look at it like that. Last year, that was a very big and unnecessary mistake, and I felt sorry for my teammates because we could have won the championship.
"For this year, I just want to have a strong race – we've put everything into this, now it's up to us to go deliver."
Another way in which virtual endurance racing bears similarities to F1 is through the amount of preparation involved, according to Verstappen.
"We treat this like a real, live race," the World Champion added.
"We’re fine-tuning the car's set-up and testing it in the hottest and coldest conditions, in rainy and dry weather, and in both night and day.
"There are weeks of preparation that go into this, and a lot of people don't realise that."