NASCAR not the only series with devastating sim consequences

Daniel Abt, Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler, Formula E (Photo by Oliver Hardt/Getty Images)
Daniel Abt, Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler, Formula E (Photo by Oliver Hardt/Getty Images) /

NASCAR isn’t the only racing series to see some of its drivers suffer from the consequences of sim racing in the real world. Formula E has now followed suit.

Bubba Wallace losing a sponsor after ragequitting from a virtual NASCAR race on iRacing during the coronavirus pandemic was a wake-up call: it may be the virtual world, but there are still real-life consequences for acting out of line.

That wake-up call ended up not serving its purpose, as just days later, another situation practically dwarfed that one.

Kyle Larson used the N-word in a virtual NASCAR race, also on iRacing, leading both NASCAR and Chip Ganassi Racing to suspend him indefinitely. He was later fired after multiple sponsors cut ties with him, and despite completing sensitivity training, he remains suspended indefinitely by NASCAR.

More from Formula E

At the end of the day, the virtual world is as real as those who are in it.

Now Formula E has witnessed the reality of that statement.

In response to the pandemic, Formula E announced the ABB Formula E Race at Home Challenge as part of their fundraising partnership with UNICEF. This series is a nine-week virtual racing series on rFactor 2 featuring all the Formula E teams and drivers, as well as a selection of top gamers.

The fifth race of this series took place this past Saturday. Instead of competing it in like he had competed in the first four, Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler’s Daniel Abt had 18-year-old professional sim racer Lorenz Hoerzing take his place. Hoerzing  been competing for Audi in the sim racer section of these virtual Formula E races.

The 27-year-old German was disqualified from this race and stripped of the points Hoerzing earned for him in it by finishing in third place, and he was fined €10,000. That €10,000 was to be donated to a charity of his choice, and he selected Allgäuer Werkstätten.

Audi first suspended Abt for the remainder of this series, and then they ultimately cut ties with him.

Yes, they fired him — from real-life Formula E competition — because of this situation.

Abt is one of four drivers who has competed in each of the 63 Formula E races which have been contested since the sport began in 2014. That trend is set to end whenever real-life action resumes.

The two-time ePrix winner released an extremely elaborate and thoughtful statement via YouTube video about the matter, pointing to the fact that this whole situation was only intended to be funny and was never secretive in any way like it has been portrayed by the media. He noted that there was nothing for him to gain from it anyway, as there are no rewards from this series.

It is in German, but English subtitles are available. It is just shy of 15 minutes long, but it is well worth watching.

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I’ve said it many times before, and I’ll say it again: the virtual world is as real as those who are in it. Daniel Abt is the latest victim of that truth.