McNish: Audi to lean on title fight experience

McNish: "We're going to Berlin with a good knowledge of what fights like these are like. Mental strength and fortitude is key."

"From the team's point of view, we're much closer to the front than what we were in season four when we won the title," said McNish, who lead the Audi squad to the team title in his first season heading up four rings in the 2017/18 season. "I think certainly from that perspective, we're not out of the game but it will be tough.

"If I look back, Berlin's been one of our favorite circuits. That's probably a little driver-related, I have to say, but the car's characteristics, the layout and the DNA of it seems to fit us very, very well.

"There's 280 points available in the end if you finish first and second, take pole position, you're fastest in your group and you manage to get the fastest lap. That's all possible."

Closer than ever

ABB FIA Formula E Championship is notoriously close and hard-fought with 24 of the world's best drivers and 12 decorated teams vying for the top step around its narrow, technical street circuits. 

McNish, however, sees the competition as being tighter than ever before this year - which means Audi will have to rely on its vast back-catalogue of motor racing experience when the pressure piles on at Tempelhof.

"It's more condensed now," continued the Scotsman. "Overall, we're going to Berlin with a good knowledge of what fights like these are like. Mental strength and fortitude is key.

"Lucas (di Grassi) has been through it before with a really difficult battle in season three when he prevailed and sealed the Drivers' title. 

"We as a team, with Daniel (Abt) and Lucas. went through it all again in a battle right to the edge in season four, too. It was the same last season with DS Techeetah as well.

"Admittedly, we finished second, but we know these types of fights and we'll be drawing on that experience a lot - especially when we get towards those last two races."

Former champion di Grassi is currently well-placed in fifth in the standings with a best finish of second at Round 2

SIX RACES IN NINE DAYS

The nine-day six-race showdown in Berlin is something entirely unfamiliar for everybody in the Formula E paddock - and is unprecedented in the modern era of motorsport.

The demands placed on drivers and team members are going to be high, McNish says, and managing emotions over the period will, he feels, be key.

"It will be very emotionally draining," he said. "It's physically going to be tiring, yes, because of the number of races in a short period of time.

"What people may not appreciate is the mental and emotional energy you expend over a race weekend and how much recharge time you need after a race in that respect.

"Double-headers are already tough for that but with three in quick succession - it's going to be very tough."

McNish on Rast: "He's willing to take on the challenge and we're willing to take the challenge with him."

WHY RAST?

Rene Rast was parachuted in over the enforced, extended mid-season break as Daniel Abt left the team, for an eventual move to pastures new with NIO 333.

It was imperative for McNish that the team turned to somebody who would hit the ground running.

"We needed someone that knew the car or the team," said McNish. "With Rene, he knows the team, the systems and the way we work.

"He understands our processes and the small details and he knows who to go to at Audi if he needs something as it's the same way of working as in DTM.

"It'll be difficult to acclimatise as everybody's got five races under their belt - or in some cases, five seasons. Rene's coming in for a very focussed six-race period and he's got to get up to speed with our support - all on a track that's changing every two days.

"Think of it this way, he's got one hour and 15 minutes prior to qualifying to practice. It's a big ask but he's got the skillset to do it. 

"We believe he's got the capability and he's willing to take on the challenge. We're more than willing to take on that challenge with him."