German Formula E driver Daniel Abt has been disqualified and fined from the ABB Race At Home Challenge after recruiting the help of a professional gamer.
The 27-year-old racing star has come into disrepute after a third-place finish in the latest round of virtual Formula E competition. Fellow competitors became suspicious of the racer's performance in the midst of a 15-lap race.
Following a brief investigation, it was revealed that esports pro Lorenz Hoerzing was actually in control of the vehicle the entire time.
All of Abt’s previous points in the tournament were stripped as he was disqualified from the event. Additionally, he was met with a fine of 10,000 Euros. “I did not take it as seriously as I should have," he said in a statement shortly after.
“I’d like to apologize to Formula E, all the fans, my team, and my driver colleagues for calling in outside help during Saturday’s race.”
Controversy arose as fellow competitors began to question the lack of a webcam appearance from Abt during the event. Typically, competitors will play with a camera displaying their setup, as to confirm exactly who is behind the wheel.
Abt was absent from any interviews and did not appear on the virtual podium for any of the earlier races. "Please ask Daniel Abt to put his Zoom next time he's driving,” Jean-Eric Vergne requested.
Correct in their suspicions, a professional gamer took to the virtual competition and battled through for a third-place finish. Apologetic for his actions, the Formula E driver said he was “aware that [his] offense has a bitter aftertaste.” However, “it was never meant with any bad intention.”
— ABB Formula E (@FIAFormulaE) May 23, 2020
The online competition continues forward despite the incident. Abt’s points were removed, and all other racers were bumped up the event standings accordingly.
It’s safe to assume that cameras will be vital as the rest of the Race at Home Challenge unfolds, just in case any other driver set to compete in the event are feeling like skipping out on a race or two in the future.