With actual races still banned from taking place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, most series organizers have been holding sanctioned online races instead. From Formula 1 to NASCAR and even Formula E, various motorsports events are now taking place in the virtual world with drivers racing safely from their homes.
However, the change from actual to virtual racing isn’t easy for some. In fact, some pro-drivers drive better in real life than in the virtual world. As a result, they would often find themselves in the back of the pack. In order to continue to be competitive even in the virtual races, one Formula E driver thought it would better to have a pro-gamer compete for him instead. Unfortunately, things did not go as planned.
Daniel Abt, a driver for the Audi Formula E team, was recently disqualified from the “Race At Home Challenge online series” after confessing that someone else drove for him in the latest race. Instead of competing himself, Abt had a professional e-sports competitor, Lorenz Hoerzing, drive for him in the Berlin E-Prix, the fifth round of the online series.
Suspicions whether Abt was actually behind the wheel after he managed to qualified second, led the race for a period of time, before finishing third behind Oliver Rowland and runner-up Stoffel Vandoorne. This was his most competitive online race yet as his previous best qualifying was 9th and his previous best finish was 15th place.
According to the-race.com, the view of Abt on his live Zoom page showed a person on a rig, but the face was obscured during the race. Meanwhile, his Twitch stream stopped working. Vandoorne also called Abt’s mobile phone but he did not answer which further raced suspicion. Subsequently, no footage of Abt racing at Berlin is currently available on his Twitch.
Abt has since apologized for the incident. Aside from being disqualified from the entire series, the Formula E racer has been fined 10,000 Euros, which will be donated to a charitable event, and has been fired from Audi's Formula E team. As for Hoerzing, he was disqualified from all future rounds of Formula E’s online races.
Unlike other e-sport competitions, Formula E is stricter with its online series. Each driver is given a standardized rig and software kit to encourage competition and to have a more level playing field.