Formula E’s attempt to keep fans engaged during the pandemic by streaming virtual races featuring real drivers using the rFactor2 sim engine has been thrown into chaos with the uncovering that one of the pro Formula E race drivers – Audi’s Daniel Abt has been found cheating like no other by swapping himself out for professional sim driver Lorenz Hoerzing.
What perhaps makes it worse is that as the drivers are broadcast on Zoom, we could see a figure playing the game that Abt was passing off as himself, but with a carefully positioned microphone and other equipment.
Having not previously finished higher than 15th position before, Abt suddenly became brilliant at the game and qualified in second and eventually finished third in the race, which is part of a series designed to raise funds for UNICEF. Way to stay in the spirit Daniel.
Other pro drivers were suspicious from the off with former F1 driver Stoffel Vandoorne saying, “Really not happy here because that was not Daniel driving the car himself, and he messed up everything. That was ridiculous.”
Former two-time FE champ Jen-Eric Vergne also piped up saying: “Please ask Daniel Abt to put his Zoom next time he’s driving, because like Stoffel said I’m pretty sure he wasn’t in.”
Abt was eventually caught out after Formula E checked the IP address of racers and discovered that it couldn’t have been Abt at the wheel.
As much as it might not seem that serious a cheat, Formula E would disagree and have disqualified Abt and fined him 10,000 Euros.
Hoerzing has also been banned from the Race Challenge Series and stripped of his own 6th place finish in a prior race.
A remorseful Abt said: “I would like to apologize to Formula E, all of the fans, my team and my fellow drivers for having called in outside help during the race on Saturday, I didn’t take it as seriously as I should have. I’m especially sorry about this because I know how much work has gone into this project on the part of the Formula E organization. I am aware that my offense has a bitter aftertaste, but it was never meant with any bad intention.”
Hopefully lessons learned all round. Somehow, we doubt it.