Giovinazzi: Tech issues could destroy virtual Le Mans

Antonio Giovinazzi says he could pull out of the virtual Le Mans 24 Hours this weekend if he feels there’s a risk that technical issues on his end could “destroy” the race for his team-mates, including fellow Formula 1 driver Charles Leclerc.

Giovinazzi is entered alongside Leclerc, F1 Esports champion David Tonizza and new recruit Enzo Bonito in the #52 Ferrari 488 GTE, run by the Ferrari – AF Corse team.

Giovinazzi and Leclerc are among five current F1 drivers to have entered the race, which will be run on rFactor 2 starting at 1pm GMT this Saturday.

But whereas his new team-mate Leclerc has had a generally successful time in simracing during the lockdown, Giovinazzi has had a far patchier stint, and finished just three of the six F1 virtual grands prix he had entered – with game crashes and freezes hindering his form on the F1 2019.

“Unfortunately, I don’t know, I can’t finish a race now,” Giovinazzi said in a Sky Sports F1 video interview.

“Last [Virtual GP] race in Baku, my game crashed on the qualifying and I was not able to start the race.

“For sure it’s disappointing, but I’m sure I can take all the problems in the virtual grand prix and finally when the [F1 racing in] reality will start I will not have any issues and I can have a clear season, I hope.”

For this reason, Giovinazzi has also expressed concerns about encountering technical problems in the Le Mans event – which would compromise not just his race but that of his squadmates.

“I’m focused now on the 24 hours that I will do on Saturday, I’m training quite hard there with the Ferrari guys because I will share a car with Charles and the other two good drivers Tonizza and Bonito.

“I am focused on that one and hopefully I will not have problem, because after [all] it’s not just me, it’s also three other drivers. So, we’ll see this week.

“To be honest, I need to decide – if the game is [working] comfortable without problems, I will do the race, if not I need to skip because I will not destroy the race also to the other drivers.”

The official guide to the virtual Le Mans event makes reference to provisions to mitigate the impact of disconnections and other technical issues.

“We are looking at a number of solutions to minimise the influence of any technical faults,” the organisers say.

“For example, we are able to use the safety car should something happen. We are also working closely with all of our partners to have a toolbox of solutions.

“Should a team disconnect from the server, the car will be returned to the pitlane with a 5-minute penalty to be served upon. If there is a driver change, there will be a 6-minute penalty.”

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