Sim racing has taken a leading role in the motorsport world over the last few months. As national and international motorsport series have been put on pause during the coronavirus pandemic, racing has entered the virtual world to entertain fans and keep racers sharp. While the racing may not be real drivers are starting to find out that virtual racing has real consequences.
This past weekend Formula E hosted a Race At Home Challenge. Audi Sport driver Daniel Abt wanted to boost his results in the esports series and asked a professional sim racer, Lorenz Hoerzing to drive in his place. Other drivers in the series were suspicious and called Abt out during the event. Organisers checked the IP addresses and learned that Abt wasn’t the driver operating his virtual car during the race. Initially Abt was fined 10 000 euros, which he had to donate to charity. Today it was announced that Audi Sport has suspended their Formula E factory pilot.
I will release a video statement at 6pm today. Too much to put it in a tweet. Thanks for your understanding 🙏🏻
— Daniel Abt (@Daniel_Abt) May 26, 2020
Audi Sport statement
“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.”
Not the first
Abt is not the first driver to learn that virtual racing has real consequences. In April Nascar driver Kyle Larson was suspended by series organisers, as well as his race team Chip Ganassi Racing, following his use of a racial slur while racing online. Larson’s two big sponsors, McDonald’s and Credit One Bank both terminated their contracts with the racer as well.
Several of Abt’s counterparts have taken to social media to make their feelings on the subject known.
Good bye Twitch, good bye streams…
Im out. See you never
— Antonio Felix da Costa (@afelixdacosta) May 26, 2020
After all this a game that should be taken seriously, but it’s a GAME. Then what about all the drivers crashing on purpose, that would probably get their licence removed if that was reality? Been out of almost all races for unsportsman behaviours and drivers using me as brakes..
— Jean-Eric Vergne (@JeanEricVergne) May 26, 2020
Imagine the stories we will tell of this time 10 years from now… 20 years… “you had to stay indoors, wear masks and make sure you didn’t catch the corona virus… oh and also play your video games correctly or you’d lose your job” pic.twitter.com/t83Bnmj2pB
— Conor Daly (@ConorDaly22) May 26, 2020
— Tim Coronel (@TimCoronel) May 26, 2020