Being that we’re still in the midst of a global lockdown, as the world faces the devastating COVID-19 pandemic, sim racing has replaced actual racing. Rather than facing each other on the grid, with real high-powered race cars, drivers are facing off against each other from the comfort of their own homes. One such racer, Audi Formula E driver Daniel Abt, will no longer be competing, however, as he’s been disqualified for using a stand-in driver in his place.
During the recent virtual Berlin E-Prix, Abt was accused of having a professional e-sports driver stand in for him, as his performance was far better than in any of his previous races. Suspicions continued to arise when other drivers and spectators noticed that the face on the driver in his video feed was obscured by a microphone and his Twitch feed wasn’t simultaneously streaming.
Mercedes-AMG driver Stoffel Vandoorne even went as far as to call Abt during the race, to no response. Which confirmed suspicions that he wasn’t, in fact, racing.
After concerns were voiced to officials, it was learned that Abt did, in fact, use e-sports competitor and Audi affiliate Lorenz Hörzing. Officials checked the IP addresses of the racers and realized that Abt was not the one racing. Following the realization, Abt came clean about it and made the following statement of apology:
“I would like to apologize to Formula E, all of the fans, my team and my fellow drivers for having called in outside help during the race on Saturday.
“I didn’t take it as seriously as I should have. I’m especially sorry about this, because I know how much work has gone into this project on the part of the Formula E organization.
“I am aware that my offence has a bitter aftertaste, but it was never meant with any bad intention.
“Of course, I accept the disqualification from the race. In addition, I will donate 10,000 Euros to a charitable project.”
Abt is disqualified from the rest of the series entirely, which is a pretty huge blow to the young racer. However, he should have taken it more seriously. It might only be sim racing but it’s the only sort of motorsport we have at the moment, as we’re all facing uncertain times and learning to adapt.