Home Esports Alpine, Ferrari and Red Bull enter their F1 juniors into Virtual Le Mans

Alpine, Ferrari and Red Bull enter their F1 juniors into Virtual Le Mans

by Ida Wood

Photo: Red Bull Content Pool

The third edition of the Virtual Le Mans 24 Hours is taking place next weekend, and will feature 14 junior single-seater racers.

During the first global lockdown period of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Le Mans 24 Hours organiser ACO approved and helped run the inaugural edition of the Esports race, which had a 50-car entry list and was won by Rebellion Williams.

The official Le Mans Virtual Series has run since, and the final round of the 2021-22 season was the 24-hour race. One of the drivers of the winning car, entered by crack Esports squad Team Redline, was Felipe Drugovich.

Since then he has won the Formula 2 title and become Aston Martin’s first ever Formula 1 junior, and he is back to defend his victory in one of Redline’s LMP2 cars.

In the sister car is GB3 champion and Aston Martin Autosport BRDC Award winner Luke Browning, who will be sharing driving duties with three other drivers including reigning F1 world champion Max Verstappen.

Vanwall, a former F1 manufacturer whose name has recently been revived by the ByKolles team to compete in sportscars, has FIA Formula 3 stars Franco Colapinto and Jonny Edgar in its two cars, while Alpine is fielding its two juniors Victor Martins and Olli Caldwell in the same entry.

Panis Racing has Formula Regional race-winner Pierre-Louis Chovet, GR eSports has signed Team USA scholar Andre Castro and Fordzilla has brought in British Formula 4 racer Georgi Dimitrov.

There are more junior stars in the GTE class, with Super Formula-bound FRegional Americas champion Raoul Hyman driving for Proton Coanda Esports in a virtual Porsche 911 RSR.

Red Bull Racing will also be using that car for its own team, and among the drivers is its junior Ayumu Iwasa who is currently racing in F2.

For the second year running, German automotive parts company Mahle is fielding its own Esports team and once again has W Series star Beitske Visser in its BMW M8, while SF Velas and Romain Grosjean’s R8G team are both using Ferrari 488s and have hired F2-bound Ferrari junior Ollie Bearman and FIA F3 race-winner Alexander Smolyar respectively.