The Red Bull F1 driver narrowly missed out on pole position for the event by just 0.002s but took the lead at the start in his Team Redline #123 LMP car. 

Along with teammates Felix Rosenqvist, Atze Kerkhof and Maximilian Benecke, Verstappen controlled the opening stages of the race. 

At the seven-hour mark, Verstappen lost control of his car over the kerbs at the Ford Chicane after passing traffic and spun into the tyre barriers, an impact which forced the car’s retirement from the event held on popular racing simulator rFactor.

Fellow F1 driver Fernando Alonso was supporting Alpine’s entry in the Virtual 24 Hours of Le Mans but did not take part as he is recovering from recent surgery on his jaw to remove titanium plates that were fitted after a cycling accident while training at the start of last year. 

“I’m just following the race, following the team Alpine Sport, car 36,” the two-time F1 world champion said. “I’m not able to participate this time. 

“I had surgery last week and I was a little bit in the hospital and now I’m recovering. But I want to follow the race. It is an amazing event and I wanted to be part of somehow.”

Verstappen has spoken of his desire to enter the real-world 24 Hours of Le Mans in the future alongside his father Jos. 

Asked about his interest in the prestigious race last year, Verstappen said: “We do talk about it a little bit,” Verstappen said.

“Hypercar is now coming along, but it still needs a few more entries to be fully established.

“I think it takes a few more years to really get a bit more of a proper picture of what I want to do possibly in Le Mans.

“It’s something I definitely would like to do in the future. Of course it would be great if I could do that together with my dad.”