It was a prank gone wrong as Audi decided to fire Formula E racer Daniel Abt after getting discovered of letting a Sim racer take his place during last weekend’s “Race at Home” challenge.
As the global pandemic continues to empty stadiums and racing tracks, Formula E thought of an indoor program to keep its professional racers and its fan base entertained; hence, the Race at Home challenge was created.
Basically, this is similar to what NBA and 2K Sports did to its star basketball players—they competed inside the NBA 2k20 arena instead. In Formula E’s case, the drivers played rFactor 2, while on a live stream.
Formula E drivers, including Daniel Abt, worked with sim racers to help them practice navigating with the simulators.
The supposed imposter scandal
The issue originated from last weekend’s race. The other drivers were in disbelief after Daniel finished third place. Mercedes EQ driver Stoffel Vandoorne was seen in his own Twitch stream, expressing his doubts in Daniel’s suspicious win.
The Racer quotes Vandoorne from the stream, “I don’t believe Daniel… for sure someone else is driving for Daniel.”
— Inside Electric⚡️ (@InsideElectric) May 19, 2020
The media outlet identifies the professional sim racer as Lorenz Hoerzing from Austria. Daniel did admit to the accusation and deeply apologized for his actions.
He was later on disqualified from the Race at Home challenge and was mandated to make a €10,000 [AU$16,501] “compulsory donation” to a charity. As for the sim racer, he was reportedly “banned from the Race Challenge outright,” and was stripped off of his Formula E Challenge Berlin Grid race title.
Daniel clarifies the situation
The German professional racer took it to YouTube yesterday to explain his side of his story. Apparently, the driver-swap was meant to be a joke.
He never meant to deceive the organization and his fellow drivers just to up his stats in the game to make him look good. He always thought of the program as a form of entertainment for their fans.
Instead, they thought that it would be a “funny move” for a sim racer drive for Daniel. He intended to show the other real drivers what the sim racer was capable of and give Hoerzing a chance to drive against them.
Basically, it was supposed to be a documented prank and share this funny story for the fans. Daniel further explained that he even tried to drop hints on WhatsApp as he and the other drivers exchanged messages.
He clarifies that he never paid Hoerzing to drive for him, nor did the pro racer get any money from winning in the race. In fact, Daniel clarifies that they talked about the driver-swap during a Twitch stream, where thousands of his fans were watching.
In addition, if deceit was their actual goal, they would not have made it too obvious with leaving the IP addresses uncovered. The mere fact that they didn’t use any VPN trick should be enough evidence.
The 27-year-old racer then reveals that he just had a conversation with Audi. He further explained that as a consequence of his action, he would no longer be racing for the brand in Formula E anymore.
Fans on social media were quick to defend Daniel, saying that the punishment against the pro racer was too much.
Featured image courtesy of Marco Verch/Flickr