Formula E Audi driver Daniel Abt was disqualified from a recent eSports race and fined €10,000 after using a ringer to participate in the event. On Tuesday, Audi decided to suspend Abt for his actions during the Formula E Race at Home Challenge.
"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 apologized for this on the following day and accepted the disqualification," Audi said in a statement. "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."
Other drivers in the race became suspicious of Abt's performance after he qualified in second place and finished in third place in the Formula E Race at Home Challenge.
After an investigation, it was determined that professional gamer and e-sim racer Lorenz Hoerzing -- not Abt -- was actually behind the wheel of the virtual car in the race. Abt was participating in a Zoom feed of the event, but his face was blocked by a microphone.
"Please ask Daniel Abt to put his Zoom next time he's driving... I'm pretty sure he wasn't in," two-time Formula E champion Jean-Eric Vergne said during the race.
Formula E ended up checking IP addresses and determined that Abt wasn't driving. Instead, the 18-year old Hoerzing was at the wheel.
"I would like to apologize to Formula E, all of the fans, my team and my fellow drivers for having called in outside help during the race on Saturday," Abt said in a statement following the race. "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 organization. I am aware that my offense has a bitter aftertaste, but it was never meant with any bad intention."
Hoerzing participates in the FE Challenge series and has been banned from the Race Challenge series as of a result of the infraction. He was also stripped of his sixth place finish in an FE Challenge race.
The Race at Home Challenge was created in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. It gave Formula E fans something to watch during lockdown while also raising money for UNICEF. Formula E is currently suspended due to the COVID-19 outbreak.