words: Bill, photos: Audi Sport
What’s a professional race car driver to do when his season is cut short by the pandemic? Race in the virtual championship of his series. What’s a professional race car driver NOT to do when e-racing? Use a ringer to race in his place.
Word came out Sunday that Daniel Abt, who placed 3rd at the virtual Flughafen Tempelhof, was using Lorenz Hoerzing, a pro gamer who races in the FE Challenge series, a championship for e-sport drivers, in his place. Suspicions were raised by F1 driver Stoffel Vandoorne, who finished 2nd.
“Really not happy here because that was not Daniel driving the car himself, and he messed up everything. That was ridiculous,” he said. “I’m questioning if it was really Daniel in the car.”
Abt had not scored a single point in the 1st four rounds before placing 3rd. “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,” said two time FE champion Jean-Eric Vergne.
On Sunday, Formula E announced that after an investigation, it discovered the IP address was not Abt’s but Hoerzing. Abt was disqualified from the race, stripped of all his points, and fined €10,000. Daniel issued an apology: “I would like to apologise to Formula E, all of the fans, my team and my fellow drivers for having called in outside help during the race on Saturday,” he said. “I did not take it as seriously as I should have. I am aware that my offence has a bitter aftertaste, but it was never meant with any bad intention.”
Then word came out this morning that Daniel has been suspended by Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler from all competition.
“Daniel Abt did not drive his car in qualifying and the race at the fifth event of the Race at Home Challenge on May 23 himself, but let a professional sim racer do so. He directly apologised for this on the following day and accepted the disqualification.Integrity, transparency and consistent compliance with applicable rules are top priorities for Audi – this applies to all activities the brand is involved in without exception. For this reason, Audi Sport has decided to suspend Daniel Abt with immediate effect.”
Daniel has been racing with the Formula E team since 2014. He’s expected to be replaced when the season reopens later this year. A couple of drivers had tested out with the team (Mattia Drudi and Kelvin van der Linde). We will see who will team up with Lucas di Grassi.