Dodgy wheel dashes Verstappen’s podium hopes

Date published: September 20 2020 - Jamie Woodhouse

Max Verstappen has insisted 2022 is too far away to rush into a decision about his Red Bull future following Honda’s decision to pull out as their engine supplier.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen missed out on a BMW Esports Road Atlanta podium after his steering wheel disconnected.

With the Formula 1 season taking a weekend off, Verstappen competed in the BMW SIM 120 Cup’s Road Atlanta race, and the Dutchman started the event well driving the Team Redline Orange car, qualifying P5 for the race.

By Lap 2 he had improved to P2 with a pass on Coanda Simsport’s Dayne Warren at the Turn 10 chicane, though Warren later fought back in a heated battle which saw Verstappen forced off the track.

Verstappen dropped back from Warren and settled in to P3 as the driver changeover approached, but then disaster struck as Verstappen’s wheel disconnected, causing him to take a backmarker with him as he went straight on into the barriers at Turn 1.

Patrick Moser took over driving the Team Redline Orange car for the second hour but could recover only to P12 after Verstappen had lost 10 positions as a result of his incident.

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But Verstappen wasn’t the only Formula 1 driver taking part in the BMW SIM 120 Cup’s Road Atlanta race.

Romain Grosjean dropped a tier for this round, having competed in the BMW SIM 120 category for the previous event at the Nurburgring.

The Haas driver qualified on pole for his R8G eSports team alongside Mathias Beche, but an incident with a lapped car that had left the track and then rejoined in front of Grosjean forced him into a lengthy stop in the pits.

That would wreck the race for Grosjean’s team with Beche finishing 28th.

Finnish esports team KOVA went on to win the Atlanta race. Their drivers Tuomas Tahtela and Valtteri Alander both pocketed $1200 each for the win and booked their place in the series final.

The final round of the BMW SIM 120 Cup takes place at Interlagos on November 8 before the BMW SIM Live final LAN event in Munich.

Interlagos will be the final chance to qualify for the season-finale.

Before all that though both Verstappen and Grosjean must turn their attention back to Formula 1.

Next up is the Russian Grand Prix and Verstappen will be desperate to avoid a third DNF in a row after two frustrating retirements at the Italian and Tuscan GPs.

Grosjean meanwhile is bottom of the Drivers’ Championship and is yet to score a point this season.

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