13 Dec 19

From 'rock bottom' to home race hero - how Formula E made Abt more mature

Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler's Daniel Abt is the only German racing driver with wins to his name in the ABB FIA Formula E Championship. Despite his brace of race wins in the 2018/19 season, the road to victory was not easy claims the Audi driver.

Daniel Abt is among the most loyal drivers in Formula E, having driven for the Audi Sport Abt Scheaffler squad since the inaugural 2014/15 season. He is one of only four drivers to have taken part in every E-Prix to date, making his name in the all-electric race series. 


When it was unclear in the run-up to this season whether the German’s contract with Audi would be extended, one thing was categorically clear to Abt: it was Formula E or nothing.


“I wasn’t looking for anything outside of Formula E. I have a lot of fun here. I don’t want to take a step backwards. Formula E is what I find most interesting. When it does come to an end, I have the skills to get through life differently”, said the 27-year-old in a pre-season interview.


Formula E has made a talented racing driver into a confident man who knows what he wants. He is now one of the most well-known and popular drivers in the series, with a far reaching following on social media. But, just five years ago, it wasn’t yet clear if he would make his mark on the series.



“I’ve become more mature” 


Since then, Abt has come a long way: “I’ve become more mature. I was very young when I started in Formula E; I didn’t have much experience and my confidence was at rock bottom because of Formula 2. I worked my way out of that and grew; I’m a more polished driver than before,” he admits. 


Abt’s career was on a sharp upwards trajectory for a long time: Winner of the ADAC Formel Masters championship at 16, runner up in the German Formula 3 Cup at 17, and runner up in the GP3 series two years later. Progressing as he was, the young drivers chances of landing a top spot looked set. 


Tough time in GP2


But, in 2013, Abt switched to the GP2 series and experienced the other side of motorsports for the first time. At ART Grand Prix, he struggled throughout his entire first season with issues with the car set-up, finishing 22nd – with a marginal improvement in the following season, when he finished in 16th place.



Steady rise in Formula E


From all this, Abt learned the hard way that being a good racing driver takes more than just talent. His chance to develop further came in Formula E after his father Hans-Jürgen Abt became involved in with his own team in 2014. 


Training, qualifying, racing – all in a single day. Narrow city circuits, keeping eye on energy levels. It was all new to Abt. 


But the challenging conditions made him a more rounded racing driver. Ever since, he's been rising in the ranks, season by season finishing 11th in 2015, seventh in 2016 and eighth in 2017. The following year, he reached his goal, standing on top of the podium for the first time at the race in Mexico City. 



Pinnacle in Berlin


But the pinnacle was still to follow: In May 2018, Abt was the first German Formula E driver to win in Berlin, sending 20,000 fans at Tempelhof airport wild. “It was an awesome day that I’ll never forget!” he said later. 


Abt had achieved something that every sportsman dreams of: victory in front of his home crowd. All the hard work had paid off.


With the countdown already on until the 2020 BMW i Berlin E-Prix presented by CBMM Niobium on 21 June 2020, time will tell if the German driver will clinch another home victory.