Published: 10:04, May 20, 2024
Verstappen wins two races in one day
By Reuters
Red Bull driver Max Verstappen of the Netherlands crosses the finish line to win the Italy's Emilia Romagna Formula One Grand Prix race at the Dino and Enzo Ferrari racetrack in Imola, Italy, May 19, 2024. (PHOTO / AP)

IMOLA, Italy - Max Verstappen celebrated a double win on Sunday, taking the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix for Red Bull after earlier being on the triumphant team for a virtual endurance race.

The triple Formula One world champion said the time spent gaming in between real world duties had not affected his performance.

Verstappen said he had done some evening stints but not night ones, although he did stay up to watch the Oleksandr Usyk-Tyson Fury world heavyweight title fight which was broadcast at around midnight local time.

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"He's had a very busy weekend because he's also competed in the 24 Hours of Nuerburgring in between being in the car," team boss Christian Horner told reporters.

"He's won two races today. One in a BMW M3 and one in a Formula One car.

"He's basically a racing machine," added Horner when asked whether there were any concerns about his star driver's activities.

"He's quite often testing different setups in the evening and that kind of thing so it's not unusual for him to be doing that."

Verstappen has now won five of seven races this season and is cruising towards his fourth title, even if the competition appears to be hotting up.

Last year the Dutch driver won a record 19 of 22 races in the most dominant campaign yet.

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McLaren's Lando Norris, who pushed Verstappen hard at the finish on Sunday and took the chequered flag only 0.7 of a second behind, has competed virtually with Verstappen in the past in the 24 Hours of Spa but on a weekend off.

Asked about the physical toll and whether he would consider doing stints in a virtual endurance race on a grand prix weekend, Norris suggested he would be up for it but his focus now was more on having fun in the real world.

"I've just never tried. I stayed up and watched the fight last night. So, I never sleep much anyway," the Briton told reporters, adding that he had also been keeping tabs on the golf and had gone to bed around 2 am.

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"I don't think it would have had the biggest toll. Otherwise, he probably wouldn't have done it. Yeah, so he didn't drive too late. He did a couple of stints. And he prepared for it and that kind of thing.

"But at least it's not a physical thing. It's more just mentally it can hurt you a bit. But I probably stayed up later than he did."

Verstappen indicated Imola's bumpy track had caused him more trouble in the end.

"I'm just broken from the bumps, to be honest. My back, everything is hurting. It's not so much from the physical side of things, but just it was so bumpy out there. Already after like 20 laps, I could really feel my back," he said.

"So I'm just looking forward to laying in bed. Maybe take some painkillers. And a massage."