18 Jul 18
"It feels superb, it feels absolutely superb," says former racing driver turned Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler Team Principal Allan McNish, wiping a layer of champagne from his brow after the podium celebrations. After the German manufacturers' season got off to a dismal start with technical difficulties and breakdowns, no one - not even the Team Principal himself - would have thought the team would be taking home the trophy for the teams' championship here in New York City.
"In Mexico, I thought maybe we'd come fifth or fourth in the championship," he admits. "Then there was the chance to get third, then second and then we set our stall out coming here, which was rather aggressive and we pulled it off!" With the team's frontman Lucas di Grassi having scored a grand total of zero points up until Round 5 of the championship, it looked near impossible for the team to make it into the top five in the teams' championship, let alone the top spot.
"To be honest, that was one of the best fightbacks of my career. And I mean my career as a driver as well as my very short career as team principal," admits McNish. But it wasn't just the teams' championship title Audi were celebrating in Brooklyn, with both drivers - di Grassi as well as teammate Daniel Abt - making it onto the podium in the final race of season four.
"It shows that in Formula E, you need to do the job all around to make it happen," said di Grassi, moments after stepping off the podium. "On my side, that's exactly what we did. We were nowhere in the first races, we made mistakes but the car was already fast. It's nothing short of a miracle - I'm very, very happy."
With Abt in third place, Audi continued to show its dominance after it's one-two finish in the first race of the New York double-header on Saturday. “What an incredible finish to the season with four podiums this weekend," said Abt excitably. "We are the team champions and we managed to achieve what we hadn’t before, everyone can be super proud of the job they’ve been doing all season long." With just two points separating Audi from fellow title contenders Techeetah at the end of the race, the New York finale saw the smallest-ever winning margin in the teams’ championship in Formula E history. And to top it all off, Audi is the first team to take the title from Renault e.dams, which has held it since the inaugural season finale in 2015.
With more big-name teams such as BMW, Nissan and HWA coming into the series next year, the level of competition is only set to increase. "Season 5 is a completely different beast. It's a completely different car," admits the Scottsman. "But I now know that I have two very capable drivers. Two very aggressive drivers but with the capability to win races and work to the strategy that we need to do sometimes," he adds. "We're making steps forward but we won't know where anyone else is until we get to the first race in Saudi Arabia."
The ABB FIA Formula E Championship returns on December 15, 2018 with the season opener in Ad Diriyah, Saudi Arabia. Click here to see the full Season 5 calendar.