Daniel Abt has confirmed he will no longer compete for the Audi Formula E team after an incident in the latest Race at Home Challenge sim racing event.
After having initially been suspended and fined after it was found that Abt had let a professional esports racer take control of his car, he confirmed via video statement that he would no longer compete for the German brand.
Abt released the video statement earlier this morning on YouTube (with English subtitles), detailing his reasons for actions, stating that he thought the idea would be ‘funny’ and planned to make a video about the ruse.
18-year-old Lorenz Hoerzing, who has been competing in the Challenger races of Formula E’s events, has drafted in to run in his place. Hoerzing even appeared on the drivers’ group Zoom call under the name “Daniel Abt” and was dressed in Audi red, but had a microphone blocking his face.
As a result, Hoerzing has been barred from competing in any Challenger events going forward.
Hoerzing led most of the race but came to blows with Mercedes-Benz driver Stoffel Vandoorne, allowing Nissan driver Oliver Rowland to take the win.
Vandoorne raised his suspensions regarding Abt, given the German’s previous struggles in the earlier rounds of the virtual championship.
“Really not happy here because that was not Daniel driving the car himself, and he messed up everything. That was ridiculous.”
Organizers of the race were reportedly able to verify that Abt was not racing based on Hoerzing’s IP address.
Formula E issued a statement on Sunday, confirming Abt’s disqualification from the race due to “sporting misconduct”. He was also stripped of his points and has been handed a $NZ18,000 fine to a charity of his choice.
In the aforementioned video, Abt explained that he had viewed these races more as entertainment for the fans and less as serious competition. As a result, Abt says he thought it would be a “funny move if a sim racer” drove for him.
We wanted to document it and create a funny story for the fans with it.”
He even included footage and audio from a practice session where he proposed the idea to Hoerzing. “Honestly, do you want to drive the race instead of me, man?” he asks Hoerzing, who laughs in response. “No joke, no joke,” Abt says. “Let’s actually think about this. That would be super funny.”
Multiple Formula E drivers have subsequently come to the defense of Abt after his suspension. Vergne posted his criticism of the Audi ruling on social media, tweeting:
Jaguar driver James Calado and Vergne’s teammate, current real-world FE points leader Antonio Felix da Costa, suggested they would no longer live broadcast their participation on Twitch.