Professional Race Car Driver Hires Expert Gamer To Race His Video Game Car

from the rat-race dept

The esports momentum due to the COVID-19 pandemic isn’t slowing down. And one of things many people are learning now that they’re either spectating or participating in esports for the first time is just how hard it is to be really, really good in these competitions. The days that bore the cliches about unskilled gamers slothing in their parent’s basement are long gone, replaced by corporate sponsorships for sold out events in full-scale arenas. In the absence of traditional IRL sports at the moment, many professional athletes are now getting into esports as well, with autoracing having led the way.

And now, in an occurrence that basically had to happen, we have our first instance of a professional racer getting caught having a gamer stand in for him during a race.

As the BBC report, 27-year-old German driver Daniel Abt finished third in the latest leg of Formula E’s Race at Home Challenge. Or, organisers thought he’d finished third, until later discovering that he’d hired a gamer to drive the race for him.

The switch was discovered by ex-F1 driver Stoffel Vandoorne, who finished second in the race and suspected that Abt—who didn’t have his video on—wasn’t behind the wheel. Instead, it turned out to be a gamer by the name of Lorenz Horzing.

Abt has been forced to pay £8,900, was disqualified from the last race and has had all his points from the series wiped.

This is where you really have to check any inclination to hand-wave this due to it being esports instead of IRL sports. Were a racer to have a different driver drive his car, we all agree that would be indefensible. The same is the case here, especially given just how much we’re talking about in terms of marketing, advertising, purse, and sponsorship dollars. Once you accept that esports is a very real and established thing, this sort of cheating takes on an entirely different light.

It’s perhaps one of the challenges esports faces: getting spectators to buy into events when the participants aren’t live and in-person. Frankly, I’m a bit surprised there wouldn’t be a rule mandating the cameras be turned on.

For what it’s worth, Abt has since apologized. Regardless, this is something that probably had to happen at some point, but it’s worth remembering that not all milestones are positive.

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Comments on “Professional Race Car Driver Hires Expert Gamer To Race His Video Game Car”

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17 Comments
Don Speekingleesh (profile) says:

He's been fired now

Abt has since been fired by his team and won’t be racing for then again, virtually or real life.

Many racing drivers use driving sims (they’re more than games) as part of their training routine, even teams use them for testing changes to cars.

The difference in the sim world between a professional sim racer and a professional driver is very small.

fairuse (profile) says:

Re: He's been fired now

It seems people have not watched any Racing Sims; iRacing in sports cars is a big deal withe the races called by the same people who call real life races.

The open wheel type races are a bit on back foot. A simulator is not a game and there are rules.

live on TV in USA and you tube also.

Unfortunately Sim Racing gets no respect from ball sports people; till now.$$

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: He's been fired now

I read that the simulators are quite realistic, for example they allow tuning of the suspension. There is a set amount of gasoline and they run out, similarly the tires wear. In addition I read that some actual race car drivers use sims to prep for up coming races. It’s also expensive.

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Adrian Cherry (profile) says:

not without precedent

Although not a situation without precedent – an alleged quote from Eddie Irving racing in Formula 1 for Jordan

Great Britain 1994

When Eddie Jordan asked him to take part in a photo shoot of all the British drivers before Silverstone 1994 he replied, "Do I have to? Send out some f**ker in my helmet, they’ll never know the difference"

CaesarAlan says:

The schadenfreude is strong with this one...

One further detail that adds some extra spice to this story: the Abt family owns a performance tuning company (Abt Sportsline) that is a title sponsor of the IRL team that’s just sacked him.

On the one hand, this makes his decision to cheat even stupider – as he’s dragging the family business through the mud too.

But it might also explain why he did. He may well have got the drive in part because of the family connection and sponsorship. And drivers that "buy" their way into race seats like this aren’t exactly renowned for their genius decision-making.

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