- Professional sim racer Lorenz Horzing secretly competed in place of Abt
- Abt has been stripped off his 3rd place finish and handed a fine for ‘sporting misconduct’
- Horzing gets banned from competing in future Challenge races
Turns out eSports isn’t all fun and games after all, and a prominent racer has come under fire for not taking virtual racing as seriously as he should have. Audi Formula E driver Daniel Abt has been disqualified from the latest Race at Home Challenge race, after it emerged that he used a professional eSports racer in his place.
For those unfamiliar with the Race at Home Challenge, Formula E has tied up with UNICEF to host a virtual racing championship, while its standard 2019/20 season is on pause due to the COVID-19 pandemic. After being unable to score a single point in the first four races, it appeared that Abt finally cracked the code to sim racing when he scored a third place finish at the fifth round on Saturday.
However, it soon became clear that something was amiss when his fellow Formula E drivers Stoffel Vandoorne and Jean-Eric Vergne accused Abt of not actually competing in the race. "Really not happy here because that was not Daniel driving the car himself, and he messed up everything. That was ridiculous," said Vandoorne during his live Twitch stream. Further fuelling speculation was the fact that Abt’s face during the live stream was obscured by equipment and that he didn’t participate in any post-race interviews.
Formula E later put out a statement confirming Abt’s disqualification from the race due to “sporting misconduct”, after it was found that 18-year-old sim racer, Lorenz Horzing, was racing in his place. Additionally, Abt has also been ordered to make a compulsory donation of €10,000 to a charity of his choice.
In a personal statement, Abt admitted that he was not behind the wheel during the virtual race – “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.
“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 organisation. 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.”
Meanwhile, Horzing – who drives for Audi in Formula E’s eSports Challenge series – has been banned competing in any future Challenge races.