Sports | May 25, 2020 8:30 am

Formula E Driver Penalized For Using Ringer for Virtual Race

Daniel Abt was supposed to be competing, but was not

Formula E image
The "Race at Home" edition of the Berlin E-Prix had some surprises.
Fiat Formula E

With most of its events canceled or postponed in the wake of the ongoing pandemic, the auto racing world has embraced virtual competitions. That’s even extended to the storied 24 Hours of Le Mans — where an online version of the race will be held next month. It’s allowed fans of the different racing circuits to see some of their favorite drivers continue to compete, albeit in a somewhat different format.

But if you were feeling skeptical, you might wonder how some governing body would make sure the people competing are, in fact, the ones competing. This was the issue at hand this weekend, when Formula E driver Daniel Abt was fined and disqualified after the revelation that an esports professional had driven for Abt in the “Race at Home” version of the Berlin E-Prix.

At Jalopnik, Max Finkel notes that Formula E’s handling of its foray into esports is particularly distinct from its peers:

While esports competitors can compete as well using semi-standardized equipment and software, scrutiny towards the Formula E drivers is stricter, with each driver given a standardized rig and software kit to encourage competition as well as level the playing field.

Multiple factors contributed to the discovery of Abt’s ruse. His performance in the Berlin race was far better than his previous virtual competitions, and numerous discrepancies related to his Twitch account raised the suspicion of many. Once questioned, Abt admitted that Lorenz Hörzing — who, like Abt, is affiliated with Audi — was racing in his stead. He apologized and stated that he would donate €10,000 to charity.

As sports scandals go, it’s a particularly strange one — but it’s certainly not lacking in consequences.

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