May 26 (UPI) -- Audi has suspended Formula E driver Daniel Abt after he cheated during a charity esports event.
Abt was suspended from the Formula E team after he was disqualified from the weekend online race. He was also ordered to pay nearly $11,000 to charity.
Organizers of the tournament discovered that Abt facilitated a deal with a professional gamer to compete in the official esports race under Abt's name.
Formula E drivers normally use electric cars in their races, but now compete virtually while their season is suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Drivers competed last weekend in a Race at Home Challenge with simulators from remote locations. The races raised money for UNICEF.
Professional gamer Lorenz Hoerzing drove Abt's car during the race. He was disqualified from all future rounds of the Challenge Grid competition.
Several drivers were suspicious about Abt's performance before they found out he was not in control of the car. Abt's car finished third in Race 5 Saturday in a virtual version of Berlin, Germany. He did not film himself while in his simulator like the other drivers.
"To be honest, I'm questioning if it was really Daniel in the car," fellow driver Stoffel Vandoorne said after Race 5.
Vandoorne finished second behind winner Oliver Rowland, who also questioned whether Abt was behind the wheel of his simulator rig.
"I would like to apologize to Formula E, all of the fans, my team and my fellow drivers for having called in outside help during the race on Saturday," Abt said in a statement after he was disqualified. "I did not take it as seriously as I should have."
Abt hinted that he had lost his sponsorship with Audi in a video he posted Tuesday on YouTube, but the German car maker said he was suspended.
"Today I was informed in a conversation with Audi, that our ways will split from now on," Abt said Tuesday. "We won't be racing together in Formula E any more and the cooperation has ended."
The Formula E season was suspended in March.
"Daniel Abt did not drive his car in qualifying and the race at the fifth event of the Race at Home Challenge on May 23 himself, but let a professional sim-racer do so," Audi said. "He directly apologized for this on the following day and accepted the disqualification.
"Integrity, transparency and consistent compliance with applicable rules are top priorities for Audi -- 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."