Max Verstappen has praised Red Bull’s new Formula 1 simulator driver Rudy van Buren, who he indicates can replicate the reigning champion’s unique driving style.
Red Bull hired van Buren, who earned a simulator role with McLaren after winning the World’s Fastest Gamer competition in 2017, as a development and simulator driver for its F1 team after a few trial days.
While van Buren was “in the background” at McLaren by his own admission, he has started to play a much bigger role for Red Bull in the simulator.
Van Buren has a lengthy association with Red Bull’s lead driver Verstappen as the duo have raced together in the virtual world on a number of occasions for Team Redline.
“I know Rudy already a long time,” Verstappen said on the Thursday of the Dutch Grand Prix.
“Of course, we also do our sim racing together in the same team so already there you know we basically built up a good bond.
“But then lately, he’s been doing it for a while unofficially already in the simulator, and we do talk about stuff, of course during a race weekend a little bit less because sometimes he’s busy as well and you just focus on your own jobs.”
🚨@redbullracing sim test & dev driver 🚀 After doing some days in the past years it’s time to scale it up!
A new and exciting route for me 2023 and onwards. More sim work at one of the coolest workplaces I can possibly think of! Don’t worry, I’ll still be racing myself 😎💪🏻 pic.twitter.com/jc2oOsyOai
— Rudy van Buren (@RvBuren) August 31, 2022
Verstappen also highlighted what he believes to be one of van Buren’s key assets that makes him such a good fit for the role at Red Bull.
“I explain my feelings of what I need from the car, and I think what is really good about Rudy is that – everyone has their own driving style in a simulator or in real life as well – he can also put himself in someone else’s driving style,” Verstappen explained.
“He knows what that person particularly needs from the car. And I think that’s why he’s such a big value as well on the simulator.”
It has been well documented that Verstappen’s driving style has not matched perfectly with Red Bull’s 2022 car and plenty of work has been done by both Verstappen and Red Bull to remedy this.
It has not stopped him from building a 93-point advantage at the top of the drivers’ championship nor winning nine of the 14 races so far this season.
Van Buren, who also worked with Mahindra in Formula E, will fill the role that was previously held by Alex Albon in 2021 prior to his return to an F1 race seat with Williams this season.
The Dutchman has some real-world racing experience too, having competed in Porsche Carrera Cup Germany and the Porsche Supercup since beating 30,000 competitors to win WFG.
His real-world racing plans once his full role with Red Bull begins remain to be seen, but he has expressed an interest in off-road racing such as competing in the European Rallycross Championship and even contesting the Dakar Rally.