A Formula E driver has been disqualified and fined after asking a professional gamer to take his place during an official esports Formula E race.
Daniel Abt, a member of Audi’s Formula E team, had a professional esports player take his place during an official Formula E esports championship race, a part of the Race at Home Series. The German driver has been fined €10,000, (or rather, asked to make a “compulsory donation” to a charity), disqualified from the race and stripped of all of his points.
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The Race at Home Series is taking place while conventional Formula E racing remains on hold due to the coronavirus. Its aim is to keep fans and drivers entertained and connected with the sport while it can’t go ahead in its usual form.
Seemingly Abt was motivated to cheat the system by his frustrating start to the series. The driver had failed to pick up any points in the first four rounds – this made other drivers suspicious when Abt seemed to suddenly up his game and finish third in a race on Saturday.
Former Formula One driver, Stoffel Vandoorne, raised his suspicions immediately in the wake of the race (via The Guardian). He said: “Really not happy here because that was not Daniel driving the car himself, and he messed up everything. That was ridiculous. I’m questioning if it was really Daniel in the car”.
Two-time FE champion Jean-Eric Vergne agreed. Following the race, he said: “Please ask Daniel Abt to put his Zoom next time he’s driving, because like Stoffel said I’m pretty sure he wasn’t in.”
An investigation, undertaken by Formula E officials, is believed to have discovered that Abt could not have been behind the wheel – seemingly thanks to an IP address check. 18-year-old Lorenz Hoerzing is the esports gamer who sat in for Abt.
Abt issued a full apology (via Variety) that reads as follows:
“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 offense 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 Tweeted to say he would release a video statement to further apologise and explain at 6pm today.