Williams Esports responds to being called out for unsportsmanlike behaviour, Jenson Button weighs in

Williams Esports

Williams Esports has put out a statement in response to criticism for unsportsmanlike behaviour they displayed during a recent sim racing tournament.

Sim racing streamer Pablo Araujo, aka PabloGz, published a video showing some of Williams Esports’ behaviour in a recent Daytona 24 iRacing tournament, including proof of them driving over an apron during qualifying, as well as parking and driving slowly in the pit lane to slow down rival drivers.

After Pablo called out the esports division of the British racing team on Twitter, Williams Racing advisor and former physical race driver, Jenson Button, responded.

Button defended the sim racing team, saying that if the same were to happen in real life racing (cutting a corner), they’d lose a lap in qualifying, not get banned.

PabloGz also said he hopes iRacing ‘watch it and understand why we are requesting live stewards for these events, and also some professional teams reconsider what they do to win a race’.

Williams Esports team manager Seb Hawkins congratulated the team on Twitter after Williams finished first in the GTP Daytona race and third in the GTD.

Some responded to these tweets calling Williams cheaters and threw abuse at the team, and Seb has since privated his Twitter account.

The incident raises a debate around sportsmanship in esports and sim racing, and whether behaviour like this constitutes cheating or not.

Posts on the F1 subreddit and the sim racing subreddit have seen many racing fans comment on the matter and deplore Williams Esports’ behaviour.

One experienced pro sim racing source told Esports News UK: “This is really poor sportsmanship from Williams. You could do this in real life like Jenson says, but no one does it. It was a shambles how they conducted themselves – I’ve not seen anything like this before. The rules are loose in sim racing but no one else did what Williams did [during the tournament].”

The source also said that interest in sim racing has kicked up a notch in recent months, with the ESL R1 €500,000 virtual racing circuit being announced – and Williams Esports are one of the participating teams within it.

Williams recently said traditional esports orgs entering sim racing through this league, like FaZe, will offer ‘massive potential’ and bring more eyes to the sim racing scene.

There have been other separate scandals in sim racing, such as this, where a driver was caught using a grip hack in the F1 game, allowing him to have better grip on the track than other drivers – clearly cheating.

Williams Esports respond with an apology

Williams Esports initially published the following statement on Twitter just now, saying they are investigating the incidents and that they do not condone social media abuse.

“We would implore the sim racing community to respect all teams, drivers and one another online,” Williams Esports said.

Two days after this, Williams Esports published a lengthier apology statement, admitting some members of their team ‘breached our standard for acceptable team conduct’.

“We apologise wholeheartedly for that, both to our fellow competitors and to the wider esports community,” Williams said.

The team also speak about a now-deleted tweet from a member not reflecting the team, and that integrity and spirit are an important part of Williams’ DNA.

Williams Esports did not go into detail as to whether there would be any internal changes or repercussions/disciplinary action made over the incident.

The news comes as Williams Esports announce they have retained both their eNascar drivers ahead of the forthcoming eNascar Coca-Cola iRacing Series 2023 Series.

Donovan Strauss and Vicente Salas will look to continue their progression in eNascar after a first season representing the team.

Related article: Williams Esports claims six big sim racing wins in a single weekend

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