A Formula E driver has been caught cheating after he got a professional gamer to drive his car in a virtual racing contest.
Daniel Abt asked ace sim-racer Lorenz Hoerzing to take the controls of his virtual vehicle in the Formula E Race at Home Challenge Series in support of UNICEF, The Race reported.
But the pair were rumbled by two other competitors who spotted that something wasn’t quite right.
Professional Formula E driver Stoffel Vandoorne voiced suspicions about Abt after a race on Saturday in which his car suddenly performed far better than it had in earlier outings in the charity contest.
“Really not happy here because that was not Daniel driving the car himself,” Vandoorne said on his Twitch stream after the race. “Really ridiculous — I’m questioning if it was really Daniel in the car.”
According to reports, event organizers were able to confirm Abt’s rule-breaking shenanigans after inspecting IP addresses that revealed he couldn’t have been driving the virtual car. In addition, a Zoom livestream comprising 20 of the drivers showed someone who should’ve been Abt in a sim rig, but whose face was blocked by an object near the camera.
Abt, who drives for Formula E team Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler, later issued a statement admitting his error and apologizing for his actions.
“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,” the 27-year-old German driver said. “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.”
Event organizers disqualified Abt from the contest and ordered him to donate 10,000 euros (about $10,900) to a charitable project. For his involvement, Hoerzing was kicked out of the event’s contest for sim-racers.
With professional sports events around the world called off because of the coronavirus, many, like Formula E, have turned to e-sports in a bid to keep fans entertained. As for Abt, maybe he can try his hand at Formula E marble racing instead.
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