Audi Sport has suspended Daniel Abt following his disqualification from last weekend’s Round 5 of the ABB Esports Formula E Race at Home Challenge.
“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,” said an Audi Sport statement. “He directly apologized 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.”
The Audi driver, who had scored no points in the opening four rounds of the Esports Formula E series, raised suspicions among rivals when he qualified second and finished third in Saturday’s race at the virtual Flughafenn Tempelhof.
A subsequent Formula E investigation revealed discrepancies in IP addresses, and later determined that 18-year-old pro sim racer Lorenz Hoerzing had been driving in Abt’s place.
Abt was disqualified and fined 10,000 euros, which was donated to charity. Following Audi’s decision, he posted a lengthy explanation for his actions on YouTube in German with an accompanying transcript in English in which he said that using a ringer was intended to be a bit of fun in the broader spirit of the event, and that he’d intended to ‘unmask’ himself after the race regardless.
The 27-year-old also said that he believed Audi’s hand was forced by negative media coverage, but expressed contrition.
“When looking back, we did not think enough about the seriousness and the consequences of the situation,” he said. “We made a huge mistake there. I stand by this mistake. I accept it, and I will carry all the consequence for what I have done.
“I want to emphasize that I am glad that the [professional] sim racing guys weren’t drawn into this and were relatively left alone by the media in comparison to me. I think that it’s very important, as they are young guys, who have their whole life ahead of them and didn’t think far enough ahead, just like I [didn’t], but it is my responsibility and I will carry it.
“This… has real consequences for me, because today I was informed in a conversation with Audi, that our ways will split from now on. We won’t be racing together in Formula E anymore, and the cooperation has ended. It is a pain, which I have never felt in this way in my life.
“It was extremely important to me to take the chance here and now to tell you how it was and what happened and to simultaneously apologize to my family, to my friends, to Audi, to my partners, to Formula E, to UNICEF and of course to all fans, who have supported me over the years, with all of my heart.
“At the end, there only is to say: You make mistakes in life. I feel like I couldn’t fall any deeper. I’m on the ground, but I’ll get up again. I will come back. I surely need some time for myself now to reflect on things, to think about my future.
“But I believe, that it will always continue and there will always be a way. I would, of course, be extremely happy if you accepted my apology, supported me on my way in the future, again, and we will see each other again, soon.”
The “real world” 2019/2020 ABB Formula E series has been on hold due to the Coronavirus pandemic since the Feb. 29 Round 5 in Marrakesh.