Formula E driver Daniel Abt has been suspended by his Audi team for using a professional sports player to race for him.
Abt had participated in the ‘Race at Home Challenge’ which raised funds for UNICEF’s coronavirus relief fund.
After finding that he had not driven his car himself in qualifying and in the fifth race of the series on Saturday 23 May, Abt apologized and was disqualified from the race as well as being fined €10,000 ( $10,956).
Audi has now suspended the driver “with immediate effect”.
“Integrity, transparency and consistent compliance with applicable regulations are top priorities for Audi – this applies to all activities in which the brand is involved without exception,” Audi said in a statement.
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Suspicions were initially raised about Abt’s driving after the 27-year-old German qualified second and finished third in the actual race without scoring a point in the first four rounds of the series.
“He’s really not happy here because it wasn’t Daniel driving the car himself, and he got it all wrong. It was ridiculous,” former F1 driver Stoffel Vandoornen said on his Twitch stream. “I wonder if it was really Daniel in the car.”
“Please ask Daniel Abt to put his Zoom on next time he drives, because as Stoffel said, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t there,” said two-time FE champion Jean-Eric Vergne.
Following an investigation by Formula E on Sunday, which included checking the IP address, it was concluded that Abt could not have been behind the wheel.
The player who replaced Abt is reported to be 18-year-old Lorenz Hoerzing, who competes in the FE Challenge series, a parallel championship for sports drivers. CNN has reached out to Hoerzing through his Allied Sports team for comment, but had not heard back by the time of publication.
Abt issued an apology soon after in which he accepted his disqualification
“I would like to apologize to Formula E, all the fans, my team and my fellow drivers for calling in outside help during Saturday’s race,” said Abt, who has pledged to provide a story update later. Tuesday.
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“I did not take it as seriously as I should have. I am aware that my offense has a bitter aftertaste, but it was never meant with ill intent.”