Germany, despite producing some of the world’s best drivers, has never produced a Formula E winner. Not until this weekend, anyway.
Daniel Abt, heir to the Abt Sportsline fortune, took his first ever Formula E victory this weekend in Mexico. The victory was not only Abt’s first and Germany’s first, but Audi’s first, too.
Despite now controlling the team that won last year’s championship (by the skin of its teeth), Audi, as a works manufacturer, has had rotten luck so far.
After the first quarter of the season, last year’s winner hadn’t registered a win, and the whole team only had 11 points in total.
But the team seems to have gotten its act together because both drivers performed well, albeit under different circumstances.
“What a fantastic day – finally a win,” said Daniel Abt. “We’ve had hard times behind us, but never gave up and taken a commanding victory and ninth place here. I’m incredibly proud of everybody and can only thank the entire team: Both cars were simply perfect. There will be a proper party this evening!”
Jumping off the line well, Abt, who started in fifth place, made up a place immediately to take fourth. By the race’s halfway point, the young German had taken a podium position, and then another, to boot.
With just race-leader Oliver Turvey (NIO) to take down, Abt had a perfect pit stop and took the lead. Not only did the first-time winner show his speed, he showed his maturity, not letting the prospect of his first victory get in the way of his pace. By the race’s end, he had built up a 6 second lead.
“Daniel [Abt] drove an incredible race,” said Team Principal Allan McNish. “It was pure class how he overtook and put himself in position to win. The race from Lucas with the fastest race lap and a difficult comeback drive also gives us a huge boost – not just the race team, but also the people back at base, who have worked very hard between the races. Congratulations to all!”
Defending world champion, Lucas di Grassi, meanwhile had a lower scoring, albeit no less successful day. Forced to serve a five second pit penalty to pay for a repair that the team had to complete to his car between races.
That sent di Grassi back down into last at the race’s halfway point. Unperturbed, the Brazilian mounted an incredible comeback drive through the grid, eventually earning himself ninth place.
“That was an exciting race that was a lot of fun,” said the Brazilian. “Congratulations to Daniel: a fantastic job! He had already earned his first victory in Hong Kong [taken away due to a controversial penalty]. We never give up as a team and our fightback started today.”
For Audi, this was an important day. The team has struggled all season long, and although there are still many races to run, the prospect of a manufacturer’s championship seems too tall an order at this point.
With the victory, Abt is now in the mix, as far as drivers are concerned, sitting in sixth place in the standings. That said, though, his 37 points still put him well behind championship leader, Jean-Eric Vergne who has 81 points.