James Vowles hit with penalty as Max Verstappen receives praise

The Emilia Romagna Grand Prix was scrapped last weekend after heavy flooding in the region displaced over 13,000 and left five dead.

Reigning Formula 1 world champion Max Verstappen hosted the Real Racers Never Quit virtual race over the weekend in place of the cancelled Imola Grand Prix.

With the Emilia Romagna race scrapped after deadly flooding plagued the Italian region, the Dutchman looked for another way to fill his weekend, raising funds for relief efforts.

The Team Redline event followed flooding and landslides that forced over 13,000 people to evacuate the region and resulted in five fatalities. 

Verstappen took victory in the first race but became the victim of carnage in the second race, as his rival sought to disrupt his dominance in the sim seat.

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McLaren’s Lando Norris couldn’t resist joining in with the event, following along on his own Twitch stream, as other drivers offered their thoughts on the Dutchman’s performance.

In the third race, Norris took the chance to get a jump start on his Formula 1 rival, jumping the start before Verstappen chased him down.

While Verstappen would escape unscathed, Norris found himself stranded in a chaotic situation, battling off his fellow drivers.

Other participants included Red Bull junior drivers Ayumu Iwasa, Jack Crawford, Isack Hadjar and Enzo Fittipaldi, with Formula 2 champion Felipe Drugovich and Alpine reserve driver Jack Doohan added to the fray.

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“We with Verstappen.com Racing work closely with Red Bull and so the question of which Red Bull juniors wanted to participate was quickly posed. Of course, we also knew some more names who also knew some more names, so that’s how we were able to put together a nice list,” Team Redline director Atze Kerkhof said.

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Almost 25,000 people joined the stream on Twitch, rivalling a similar virtual race held by Williams Esports, also to raise money for rescue efforts in the region.

Albon was less successful in his event, finding himself disqualified by lap 13 after he failed to obey blue flags on a number of occasions.

Albon’s boss James Vowles also took part, similarly being hit by a penalty for infringments around the circuit.