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15 Nov 19
Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler has traditionally been among the pace-setters in the ABB FIA Formula E Championship, but the German marque was forced to surrender their Teams’ title to DS Techeetah last season. It's the only team with an unchanged driver line-up since the inaugural 2014/15 campaign, with Lucas di Grassi and Daniel Abt once again looking to return the famous four rings to the summit of the all-electric series.
Audi has always been front-runners in Formula E, laying down a marker by winning the very first race of the all-electric championship in 2014/15. The ever-present driver pairing of Lucas di Grassi and Daniel Abt have combined to bring the German manufacturer 11 more victories since then, establishing the Audi squad as one of the series’ most successful heavyweight entries.
The Abt Sportsline-run outfit finished third in the inaugural Teams’ Championship and went one better the following year, ending the season second as Di Grassi missed out on the Drivers’ title by two points. The Brazilian finally claimed the individual crown in 2016/17, although Audi had to wait another year to get their hands on the Teams’ trophy.
Consistency was key to their 2017/18 success, with di Grassi and Abt securing four wins and 11 podiums between them, but Formula E’s fiercely competitive nature saw Audi pipped to the overall title by DS Techeetah last time out.
Hitting back immediately is the priority for Team Principal Allan McNish and his squad, particularly after the arrival of Porsche and Mercedes into the championship. BMW is also expected to pose a threat after a season of consolidation so there is plenty of pride at stake in the battle of the German OEMs.
Audi has endured slow starts in recent campaigns, so di Grassi will be looking to avoid a repeat as he eyes his second Formula E title. The Brazilian did not stand on the top step until the fourth race of 2018/19 in Mexico, snatching victory from Pascal Wehrlein on the finish line, and only reached the podium on two other occasions that season. That record must improve if he is to prevent reigning champion Jean-Eric Vergne from sealing a third consecutive crown.
Di Grassi is a committed ambassador for Formula E, EV technology and climate change awareness, as well as being one of the most intelligent and accomplished racers on the grid. His Formula One and World Endurance Championship experience have proved vital in adapting to the intricacies of electric racing, with the 35-year-old never finishing outside the top three in the Drivers’ standings.
On the other side of the garage, the time has come for Abt to step up as a title challenger. The 26-year-old proved his race-winning credentials with two victories in 2017/18 and has a total of 10 Formula E podiums to his name. The German is a safe pair of hands, finishing every race last year while failing to earn points just twice, but the jury is still out over whether he has what it takes to pose di Grassi problems and compete for the overall title.
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