Today, Audi gave its response. “Integrity, transparency and consistent compliance with applicable rules are top priorities for Audi,” the company’s motor sport division said in a statement. “This applies to all activities the brand is involved in without exception. For this reason, Audi Sport has decided to suspend Daniel Abt with immediate effect.”
Abt’s statement followed hours later, confirming his departure from the team. Colleagues are said to be stunned by how a “stupid prank” has escalated.
However, it is only the latest esports incident to spill over into the real world, with often serious consequences. Earlier this year, Bubba Wallace lost one of his sponsors after quitting an eNASCAR event mid-race when he wasn’t doing very well. Two weeks later, NASCAR driver Kyle Larson was fired by Chip Ganassi Racing for using a racist slur in his stream during an iRacing event.
At the beginning of this month, Simon Pagenaud created outrage when – feeling unfairly treated by Lando Norris in a virtual race at Indianapolis – he caused a crash with the young driver, who was leading the race.
Daniel Abt has been on the Formula E grid since its first season in 2014-15, joining after two years in GP2. He has also competed in the World Endurance Championship, racing at Le Mans in 2015.
“I feel like I couldn’t fall any deeper,” he said at the end of the video. “But I will get up again, I will come back.”