Image:-The Audi Formula E team has suspended driver Daniel Abt for cheating during an esports charity race over the weekend.
At the fifth round of Formula E's virtual 'Race at Home Challenge' on Sunday, Abt had issued an apology for the deception.
The 27-year-old, who has been disqualified and ordered to pay charity €10,000 ($10,956), risks losing his seat in the real world.
"Integrity, transparency and consistent compliance with applicable rules are top priorities for Audi-this applies without exception to all activities in which the brand is involved," Audi said in a statement.
"That is why Audi Sport has decided to immediately suspend Daniel Abt."
The punishment, for something that happened in a virtual series designed to provide entertainment in the absence of real racing because of the COVID-19 pandemic, was seen by some of Abt 's track rivals as an over-reaction.
Antonio Felix da Costa, leader of the Formula E championship, feared the sport was losing sight of what matters.
Audi suspende a Daniel Abt de su programa de Formula E. Un simracer participó en su nombre en la carrera virtual de @FIAFormulaE de este fin de semana.— Albert Fabrega (@AlbertFabrega) May 26, 2020
Audi suspends Daniel Abt from the Formula E program. A simracer raced under his name at last weekend’s FE virtual race.
"Accept cheating? No, but who did not cheat at Monopoly? Please let's put things in perspective,' the Portuguese said on Twitter.
On his feed, DS Techeetah team mate and Formula E double champion Jean-Eric Vergne said: "After all this a game that should be taken seriously, but it's a GAME."
Abt, a real-life race winner, had finished third on the virtual layout of the Berlin Tempelhof but at the time rivals expressed doubts about who was racing.
Mercedes driver Stoffel Vandoorne, who finished second, felt something amiss and tried to call Abt without success on his mobile.
The esports series features all the regular Formula E drivers competing in their simulators from home and visible online, but Abt 's face was hidden.
Organizers can check competitors' IP addresses to make sure they are who they claim to be, with pro gamer Lorenz Hoerzing later turning out to be the 'minor' of Abt and barred from future involvement.
"I didn't take it as seriously as I was supposed to have," Abt said Sunday. "I know my offense has a bitter aftertaste, but with no bad intention it was never meant."
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