May 2, 2020 / 10:46 PM / 24 days ago

Motor racing: Vettel makes his esports debut in Legends Trophy

FILE PHOTO: Formula One F1 - Australian Grand Prix - Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit, Melbourne, Australia - March 12, 2020 Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel during the Media day REUTERS/Edgar Su/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) - Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel made his esports debut on Saturday in Legends Trophy races that also featured retired Formula One world champions Emerson Fittipaldi and Jenson Button.

The German has some time on his hands with Formula One’s season stalled by the COVID-19 pandemic and organisers hoping to get going in Austria at the start of July.

The four times champion finished 15th and 12th respectively after being caught up in incidents on the virtual version of the Sepang circuit that hosted the Malaysian Grand Prix between 1999 and 2017.

While Vettel, 32, and Button, 40, are both actual Malaysian Grand Prix winners, 73-year-old Fittipaldi’s time was in the 1970s when the real Brabham BT44s, simulated in the virtual race, were around.

The first race was won by Colombian former McLaren and Williams F1 driver Juan Pablo Montoya, a double Indianapolis 500 winner, while the second went to Mexican Adrian Fernandez.

Vettel’s team mate Charles Leclerc has been active on various platforms from his Monaco apartment, even taking part in virtual lawn mower and truck races.

The 22-year-old Monegasque has also won two Formula One virtual races and will take part in another on Sunday, which would have been the day of the postponed Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort.

Vettel acquired a simulator only recently from the Allinsports company owned by Torque Esports, organisers of the Legends Trophy, and said he would try it out for fun at his Swiss home.

“I’m aware that some people take it very seriously and spend a lot of time there but I also enjoy doing other things,” the German, a father of three, told reporters this month.

Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Toby Davis

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