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Formula E driver says he was fired from real racing team for cheating in virtual racing event

Jason Owens
·4 min read
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Daniel Abt brought in a ringer for a video game race.

It cost him his real ride.

The German Formula E driver announced on Tuesday that Audi has dropped him from its racing team after it was revealed that he cheated in an esports charity event over the weekend.

What happened?

Abt’s car finished third in Sunday’s Race at Home Challenge event competing online against other Formula E drivers. During the race that took place at a virtual Berlin Tempelhof track, Belgian racer Stoffel Vandoorne questioned on the Twitch stream if Abt was actually the one driving his car.

Jean-Eric Vergne, a French driver, agreed.

"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," Vergne said.

Abt fessed up, apologized

It turns out they were right. Abt was disqualified from the event after it was learned that he had brought in pro gamer Lorenz Hoerzing to drive for him in the race. He was fined 10,000 euros ($10,900).

“I did not take it as seriously as I should have," Abt said on Sunday. “I am 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.”

Things got worse for Abt on Tuesday.

Audi’s reaction

Audi released a statement announcing that Abt was suspended.

“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,” the statement reads. “For this reason, Audi Sport has decided to suspend Daniel Abt with immediate effect.”

While Audi announced a suspension, there were multiple reports that the team intended to drop Abt altogether.

Abt confirmed the reports as true later Tuesday in a 15-minute video explaining his side of the story and announcing that he would no longer be racing for Audi.

‘We won’t be racing together anymore’

“Today I was informed in a conversation with Audi that our ways will split from now on,” Abt said (11:43). “We won’t be racing together in Formula E anymore, and the cooperation has ended. It is a pain which I have never felt in this way in my life.”

In the statement, Abt explained his reasoning for bringing in the pro gamer, claiming that he didn’t seek any personal or financial gain in the incident.

“It was also very important to me, to say, that it was never my intention to let another drive for me to get a result and keep quiet about it later on just to make me look better,” Abt said. “Because I do not. These points, this result, is irrelevant to me, personally. It has no impacts in any way. I’m not getting any money for it. Nothing of the sort.”

Daniel Abt brought in a ringer for a video game race and lost his real ride in the process. (Photo by Oliver Hardt/Getty Images)
Daniel Abt brought in a ringer for a video game race and lost his real ride in the process. (Photo by Oliver Hardt/Getty Images)

Why did Abt bring in a pro gamer?

He said the idea came from a discussion with sim drivers that it would be fun to pit a gamer against real drivers in the event to show what he could do against professional drivers.

“We discussed sim racing, we drove together and had fun,” Abt said. “In this stream, on this day, we had a conversation and the idea came up that it would be a funny move if a sim racer basically drove for me to show other, real drivers, what he is capable of and uses the chance to drive against them. We wanted to document it and create a funny story for the fans with it.”

That idea ended up costing Abt his job.

Abt has raced with Formula E since its inception in 2014. The international racing circuit features racers driving electric cars.

According to Motorsport.com, Abt had driven in every Formula E race since the circuit started and done so with Audi. He has two wins on the circuit.

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