Audi’s highly anticipated Formula E debut in Hong Kong really sucked.
Absolutely nothing went right for Audi during Formula E’s season-opening weekend. Team Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler’s new e-tronFE04 cars looked fast during free practice, but due to a red flag during qualifying drivers Daniel Abt and Lucas di Grassi were forced to start from P4 and P6, respectively.
The weekend’s opening race on Saturday was a rough and tumble affair on the cramped street circuit, with di Grassi the victim of with Sébastien Buemi as the pair dueled early in the race. Colliding with the Swiss broke di Grassi’s right rear suspension which forced the reigning champion to limp back to the pits and swap to his second car. He would end up finishing a lap down in 18th place.
Meanwhile, teammate Daniel Abt looked good for a podium position before the pit stop phase. When Abt came in to swap cars, his second e-tron FE04 simply wouldn’t switch on right away. As a result, Abt dropped to P9 before clawing himself up to 5th.
The bad luck seeped into the second race on Sunday as well.
Following a well-earned victory on his 25th birthday, Abt was stripped of the win during post-race scrutineering. The stewards noted a mismatch between part numbers listed in the car’s technical passport and what was actually installed on the car. Abt’s exclusion from classification came even though the parts were identical and within homologated specifications. Audi is appealing the alleged administrative mistake.
Following his accident on Saturday, Lucas di Grassi remained without points on Sunday after his car developed a battery issue.
“That we had a strong race performance on both days is a positive,” said Head of Audi Motorsport Dieter Gass. “But it goes without saying that we had a somewhat different idea of Sunday night.