Daniel Abt, Audi, Formula E, 2020

Audi says it had “no alternative” to firing Abt over using ringer in virtual race

Formula E

Posted on

| Written by

Audi has issued a further explanation for its decision to cut Daniel Abt from its Formula E programme in wake of last weekend’s controversy over the Race at Home virtual event.

Abt was disqualified from the race after it was discovered he had arranged for a professional simracer to participate instead of him in the race which was held on Saturday.

Audi subsequently said it had “suspended” Abt from its team. In a video statement yesterday Abt confirmed he will not drive for the team any more and apologised for what he called a “huge mistake”.

Several drivers have criticised Audi’s action. The team today issued a second statement giving further explanation for its decision.

“Daniel Abt, after six years and 63 races, will no longer drive for Audi in Formula E,” it said.

“He has been part of our Formula E team since the debut of the racing series in September 2014, and our official factory driver since the autumn of 2017. In Mexico and at our home round in Berlin, Abt took two fantastic Formula E victories and scored a total of ten podium results. With Daniel, we celebrated great success and made enormous strides with Formula E. We are thankful for our time together and look back on it proudly.

“However, integrity, transparency and consistent compliance with applicable rules, especially with regards to the past, are top priorities for us at Audi.

“We stand by our culture of tolerating mistakes. However, the incidents that took place during the ‘Race at Home Challenge’ sim racing series were not a mistake, but a conscious decision to go against the rules. That is what makes the big difference for us. Therefore, unfortunately, we had no other alternative than suspending Daniel Abt.”

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2020 F1 season

Browse all 2020 F1 season articles

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

Posted on Categories Formula ETags ,

Promoted content from around the web | Become a RaceFans Supporter to hide this ad and others

  • 26 comments on “Audi says it had “no alternative” to firing Abt over using ringer in virtual race”

    1. Neil (@neilosjames)
      27th May 2020, 17:06

      I’m still not convinced they’d have taken the same choices if it had been their good driver and first Formula E champion, di Grassi… rather than an underperforming burden lumped on them by the fact his dad controls Abt Sportsline.

    2. James Coulee
      27th May 2020, 17:07

      I think this will harm Audi’s image more than do any good.

      Hearing what he and some of his fellow drivers had to say about the situation, it was obviously something planned to have a bit of fun and, if he’d be able to take it to its conclusion, we’d all probably just have a laugh with it.

      Gunning for a third place in a virtual race where he wasn’t that great, after leaving so many hints of the prank, and on what a fun race exclusively for entertainment… It’s just surreal to take the fun of the game and produce these brutal, inconsiderate, consequences on the career of a guy who gave so much in real life to the brand.

      This wasn’t racism, it was just an unfinished prank taken the wrong way. I don’t think he meant to deceive, he meant just to make people have a laugh.

      There’s more meanness, unfairness, ingratitude, and unsportsmanlike in Audi’s disproportional decision than in Abt’s inconsequential prank.

      I understood why guys like Hamilton wouldn’t want to do this (so that their image of great drivers isn’t affected by a poor performance in a game), but those who decided to give it a go nevertheless (like Abt, but also like Norris) deserve our gratitude.

      Seeing this, I don’t know how Norris can afford to do it, though. After this, no professional driver will risk giving us a bit of fun on a virtual race, as they may do something silly and see it poorly perceived, and be penalized with loosing their real-life ride.

      Thank you, Audi.

      (And I drive an Audi and never cared for Abt before.)

      1. Your mistaken.. it’s not the others stop e-racing.. they just stop the streaming.
        So all the same drivers ( except the cheater) are continuing participating in the e-racing .

      2. So what exactly was the fun part about the conclusion of the ”stunt”? I don’t get it.

      3. I think otherwise. Although I think it might hurt their image, it would hurt more if they did not take action. I understand it they can’t afford to be associated with cheating since VAG got caught out. Other sponsors as well. If it was a mistake, it would be too harsh, but I guess I’m with them when they say it was deliberate.

        I learned from all this I’m not a big fan of virtual racing. I do think it is very interesting though and some aspects have big consequences. Because I have now also learned Simon Pagenaud is a ******bag. I would totally understand it if some sponsors would drop him. Maybe not even for the lame move itself, but for the lying and the call with Norris with fake apologies and sorry excuses. If I was to be a sponsor, no way I’d sponsor someone like that. Championships or not.

        Having said that, I don’t know how Ferrucci is still a racing driver…

        1. Ferrucci is still a racing driver because there is more involved than outraged fans voting them off the island.

          Sadly, the more has to do with money and ambition, but that’s the facts of life.

          I wouldn’t worry let it bother me.

      4. No one expects any race driver to step into sim racing competition & win … but we expect them to compete. There is no point in saying you’re racing and then getting someone else to compete in your place while still maintaining the ruse.
        It is disrespectful to the manufacturer you represent, the series you compete in, the other drivers who make the effort to compete fairly, and the fans who made the time to watch the event.

        While this was a sim race it was still an officially sanctioned event & therefore subject to the same rules and expectations from everyone involved … no different from any other sport which can be just a game and for fun when done in a non-competitive environment, but as soon as you participate in any official capacity, backyard rules no longer fly or apply.

        No one here is telling any driver they can’t do whatever they want to when they’re sim racing against their buddies in private … but this was definitely not a private game between buddies. The fact that it was broadcast live internationally on major sporting networks should be the clearest distinction for those of you struggling with the concept of a sportsman deliberately cheating in a major event, being caught with his hand in the cookie jar, & then facing the obvious and entirely justified consequences.

    3. After watching the first corner wipe out 75% of the field (definitely prolonged a red flag at Long Beach), the cars miraculously drove off!
      The whole thing’s bumper cars with no consequences, so how can anyone take it seriously ?

    4. Doh.. ‘would have produced a prolonged red ‘….

    5. Adam (@rocketpanda)
      27th May 2020, 17:26

      I can understand why Audi felt that there was no option given he lied and deliberately chose to ignore the ‘rules’ of this – even if it was just a game. But on the other hand I really don’t think he set out to decieve maliciously, it was a stupid prank for a YouTube video. His biggest error was not telling Audi or FE’s organisation what he planned to do and not considering the consequences of his actions. But the fact remains he lied, and so whatever punishment Audi see fit to dole out is his own fault.

      Though still find the other drivers threatening to no longer stream in ‘fear’ as strange given none of them are getting other people to pretend to be them in events that are being treated with some semblance of seriousness, and there lies the problem with what Abt did. If it had been on his own stream or on someone else’s nobody would care – but he did it on FE’s official one.

      1. A stupid prank for attention on YouTube is a poor excuse and shows a serious lack of maturity.

        If you’re going to excuse cheating just so some sportsmen and women can become part-time comedians in search of social media popularity, every sport will soon spiral into stupidity.
        Imagine if Usain Bolt decided to run the Olympic 100m heats in a unicorn onesie for a YouTube prank …

        Time and place …

    6. We stand by our culture of tolerating mistakes. However, the incidents that took place during the ‘Race at Home Challenge’ sim racing series were not a mistake, but a conscious decision to go against the rules

      Like deliberately cheating the regulators…

      1. Exactly, they can’t afford to be seen as deliberately breaking the rules again.

      2. Not a competition …

        Not difficult to understand the difference, yet you can’t seem to.

    7. This says it all:

      However, integrity, transparency and consistent compliance with applicable rules, especially with regards to the past, are top priorities for us at Audi.

      Because of Audi’s involvement in Dieselgate, it can not be associated with cheating (whether intentional or not) anymore to prevent further damage to the brand.

    8. ”Just a game”… that’s simply mentality. If it’s supposed to be serious competition, it is just that.

      Formula 1 is just a sport. Stop getting so upset about it.

    9. notconvinced
      27th May 2020, 22:40

      this is absurd. the pro drivers dont take the racing seriously and frequently just crash each other for fun. that gets me much more upset than abt’s stunt. audi think by firing abt we will all forget about the diesel engines. absurd. audi is absolutely absurd.

    10. Audi and VAG certainly are qualified to comment about cheating…

    11. It isn’t what this guy did or Audi’s response that makes me think eracing is just a dumb game, it is the crash fests. They need to cut that crap out.

      1. Yeh, racing needs to be dangerous

    12. World gone mad. It’s literally a game.

      1. It’s clearly not as simple as that though. Sitting at home and playing a game in your own free time is very different to playing a game as part of an official series that is broadcasted to thousands whilst representing the company he works for.

        I play 5-a-side football with my friends but if I was asked to take part in a 5-a-side tournament with a team that was representing the company I work for with our logo on the shirt and I knew that it would get press coverage, I would behave accordingly. I’d know that if I lost my cool and had an argument with the ref or ended up in a fight with another player, it would reflect badly on the company I work for and there would potentially be consequences.

        I don’t necessarily agree with him losing his job over this but I also don’t agree with the idea that “it’s just a game” so he should be free to behave however he likes.

    13. Well, how would an E-sports team handle this if their pro-gamer was replaced by someone else for a race?

      How would Mercedes handle Hamilton if he stayed at home while Will Smith raced his car?

      I think this is entirely different set of circumstances. Nobody could die in an e-sports race. There is no money on the line, there are no championships won. There is no manufacturer technology that is developed.

      It is several degrees separated from reality. As is Audi’s response. I am sure if it was their star driver, they wouldn’t have done it. This is just a cover up for sacking a driver they dislike.

    14. I really think his video-statement (english sublitled) helps to understand his reasoning and shows how they came up with the idea live(!) on his stream: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ktOUffssTA

      My personal takeaway: no bad intentions, just a badly executed prank that he should have cleared with Audi and Formula E because he did it on their platform.

    15. “There’s no such thing as bad publicity”
      Social media “hold my beer…”

    16. frederick thomson
      6th June 2020, 12:44

      Where is the freedom of speech in the private life? It was just an excuse to get rid of him. It is like if Renault is going to fire Daniel Ricciardo because he drives a McLaren on the road.

    Comments are closed.