Racing driver suspended by ‘real world’ team after cheating in online race

Racing driver Daniel Abt has been suspended by the Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler Formula E team after he was caught cheating in a virtual race.

The German had admitted to getting professional sim racer Lorenz Hoerzig to impersonate him in the official Formula E ‘Race at Home Challenge’ on Saturday.

Opponents raised doubts over whether Abt was behind the wheel because he had gone from being a backmarker in earlier races to a podium contender for the virtual Berlin e-Prix. His live webcam also had a strategically placed microphone blocking his face.

Formula E Race at Home Challenge, Hong Kong 2020
(Audi)

Event organisers realised Abt wasn’t at the wheel after checking his IP address – a unique number that identifies a computer on a network. The 27-year-old was disqualified from the race and ordered to make a compulsory €10,000 donation to charity. Formula E’s Race at Home Challenge events are run in support of Unicef.

However, following an admission of guilt and public apology, Abt has now been suspended by his real-world team. A statement from Audi said: “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.”

However, motorsport publication The Race says that it understands the suspension is part of a process that will see Abt removed from the team permanently.

The German driver has been in Formula E since it began in 2014, winning two races in that time. If Abt is removed from the team, it will mean Audi Sport will have to find a new driver ahead of the delayed 2020 season, should it go ahead.

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