Motorsport: Formula E driver Daniel Abt caught cheating by using pro gamer during virtual race

Formula E driver Daniel Abt has apologised and been ordered to pay £8,900 (NZ$17,810) to charity, after he was found guilty of cheating in a charity virtual championship race. 

Abt used a professional gamer to compete for him during the latest round of the Formula E's Race at Home Challenge to raise money for UNICEF.

All 22 of Formula E's drivers - including Kiwis Mitch Evans and Brendon Hartley - are competing in the nine-week event, but Sunday's (NZ time) race at the virtual Flughafen Tempelhof circuit in Berlin was shrouded in controversy, after a questionable result by German Abt.

Audi driver Abt had failed to register a single point in the opening four rounds of racing, but  managed to finish third during the race at Berlin and then completed the post-race press conference with his webcam switched off.

Former Formula One driver Stoffel Vandoorne and two-time Formula E champion Jean-Eric Vergne immediately raised their suspicions, which led to an investigation. 

Formula E officials then announced Abt had been "disqualified from the race for sporting misconduct", after checking his IP address and discovering that Abt could not have been behind the wheel. 

Racing instead of Abt was Lorenz Hoerzingan, an 18-year old who competes in the FE Challenge series, a parallel championship for Esport drivers.

"I did not take it as seriously as I should have," says an apologetic Abt. "I am especially sorry about this, because I know how much work has gone into this project on the part of the Formula E organisation.

"I am aware that my offence has a bitter aftertaste, but it was never meant with any bad intention."

Cheating should never be condoned, but virtual motorsport racing has seen some controversial moments in the last two months.

NASCAR driver Kyle Larson was sacked by Chip Ganassi racing and suspended indefinitely from the series, after using a racial slur in a virtual race in April. 

Things haven't gone so well for Evans and Hartley during the virtual race series, with both lingering near the foot of the standings. 

Evans was second in the real-life standings after five races, when the season was suspended due to the coronavirus.