Questions were raised when Abt suddenly propelled to the front of the grid after disappointing shows at previous rounds with drivers noting “his” face was obscured by a microphone captured by a webcam. Formula E officials subsequently investigated the allegations further and found Abt’s car to be raced from a different IP address.
It was discovered that Abt had recruited a professional sim-racer to drive in his place for the virtual Berlin ePrix. The German was subsequently disqualified from the race and fined €10,000.
After the race, the 27-year-old admitted he did not take the race “as seriously as I should have” having brought in outside help from sim-racer Lorenz Hoerzing who competed under Abt’s name in the charity event. Abt added: “I am aware that my offence has a bitter aftertaste, but it was never meant with any bad intention.”
Audi have since released the following statement addressing Abt’s position at the team:
“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.” Audi Sport official statement.
According to motorsport.com , although Audi have formally ‘suspended’ Abt, it is believed the stunt will cost his Formula E drive.
Although we await official confirmation of Abt’s departure from Formula E, it is speculated that Mattia Drudi and Kelvin van der Linde are up for consideration.
The incident adds to a growing list for motorsport when it comes to eSports controversies, following in the footsteps of Bubba Wallace, Kyle Larson, Simon Pagenaud and possibly more to come.