Formula E racer Daniel Abt has been busted for cheating in the latest round of the Formula E ‘Race at Home Challenge’ and rocked the (online) racing world.

Daniel Abt is a 27-year old German professional race driver who competes in Formula E, the electric-only motorsport series. He’s been racing in it for five years and in that time has picked up two wins with a best season finish of seventh. But it was his most recent performance that turned the spotlight on himself, Formula E and online racing, for the wrong reason.

Like every other race series, Formula E has gone online with its “Race at Home Challenge”, but that hasn’t dimmed the competitive instincts of any driver, despite many initially not taking it seriously. And in the case of Daniel Abt, it seems he’ll go to any length to win.

Abt had competed in the Formula E online series since inception, but failed to score a point by finishing in the top 10. Then, suddenly, in Round 5, he was up there for a top-3 podium finish. How’d that happen? Racing drivers don’t suddenly go from mid-field to top-3 overnight. The result raised eyebrows, with 3-time Indy 500 winner and commentator Dario Franchitti saying of Abt’s style during the race: “…this is something we haven’t seen from Daniel Abt, this sort of technique, sliding the back of the car like all the leading sim racers do”.

Stoffel Vandoore took third place in the race, and has been a consistent front runner said: “Really not happy here because that was not Daniel driving the car himself, and he messed up everything. That was ridiculous”.

Double Formula E champion and also ex F1 driver Jean-Eric Vergne agreed. “Please ask Daniel Abt to put his Zoom on next time he’s driving, because like Stoffel said I’m pretty sure he wasn’t in”.

Formula E rocked by Daniel Abt cheating scandal

The race was investigated by the FIA, governing body for Formula E, and the result was that the unique network address (IP address) used by Abt did not, in fact, correspond to his home address.

So who was driving the car? Lorenz Hoerzing is an 18 year old professional gamer who competes in the Formula E Challenge parallel series for Formula E gamers, and it was him driving for Abt.

Abt was contrite after the race, and said: “I would like to apologise to Formula E, all of the fans, my team and my fellow drivers for having called in outside help during the race on Saturday,” and has been disqualified from the race as well as being stripped of all points to date.

Looks like a new rule may be in place for e-racing; all drivers need to have a webcam pointed at their faces. Most drivers live-stream to services such as Twitch, but apparently there was equipment in the way of Abt’s webcam so it was hard to see his face (look at the image above).

The professional e-racing scene has been fascinating with incidents aplenty, reputations damaged, new stars rising and lots of action.

How will it change the real-life racing? That’s to be seen, but there’s no question that now it’s taken centre stage, e-racing will not just fade back into the shadows.

Check out our online racing articles:

Here’s the full race video.

Jump to 1.32.000 to hear the post-race interview with Stoffel Vandoorne questioning whether Daniel was in the car.

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