Audi driver Daniel Abt has been suspended by the manufacturer following his disqualification from the latest Race at Home sim racing event.
Abt invited professional eSports racer Lorenz Hoerzing to imitate him in the fifth round of Formula E’s sim racing championship, which is run in partnership with UNICEF.
Hoerzing, posing as Abt, drove to a third placed finish, raising suspicions from second placed Stoffel Vandoorne as well as Jean-Eric Vergne.
When it was discovered, Abt was disqualified for “sporting misconduct”, stripped of his points in the championship and made to make a donation to a charity of his choice.
Audi has made the decision to suspend Abt with immediate effect. This comes only months before the German racer’s contract expires, and is likely he won’t be retained for the 2020-2021 Formula E season.
“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,” Audi said in an official statement.
“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.”
This isn’t the first time online racing has had an impact in the real world in 2020. A NASCAR driver lost sponsors after quitting midway through an online race hosted by the championship, while another was suspended for using racial slurs during an event.