"Chicken skin in the car" - ABT Cupra celebrates first world championship points at Formula E home race in Berlin
The penny dropped for ABT Cupra. At the home E-Prix in Berlin, of all places, the team from Kempten scored its first World Championship points since the Formula E comeback at the beginning of January. In the rainy qualifying, Robin Frijns and Nico Müller initially sensationally secured the first two grid positions. But Müller also drove in the dry race thanks to good strategy for the first time in the top 10.
The Sunday in Berlin was under a "good star" for ABT Cupra. After a difficult race on Saturday, the squad of team boss Thomas Biermaier was with it's back to the wall and had to risk something: The mechanics fundamentally changed the setup of the two customer Mahindras for rain and were suddenly at the front as a result. First in free practice in the morning, then in qualifying.
"The good Lord helped us a little bit that it rained (after FP3) again. That suited us a bit," Biermaier told 'e-formula.news'. "We had two or three rain tests, so maybe that helped us. Before the season in England and also in Valencia. Our guys already said then that the car felt good in the rain."
Frijns and Müller worked their way flawlessly through qualifying and both advanced to the final, where they met head-to-head. Frijns prevailed, giving ABT its first pole position of the season and finally its first three world championship points. "The two drivers did a top job of not making a mistake in the rain," Biermaier thinks.
Müller: "I've rarely experienced anything like this"
Müller also thinks back fondly to qualifying at the 'e-formula.news' microphone: "That was special when I was pushed back into the garage after group qualifying. That's when you notice the air crackling. The sparkle in the eyes of the mechanics and engineers when it finally worked out to be in a duel for the first time."
"The moment I will never forget was when I was sitting in the car after my semifinal - qualified for the final," Müller explains. "Robin was just driving. My engineer was giving me live sector times on the radio - his gaps against Evans. When he crossed the finish line, also in the final, and everyone in the garage was cheering, I had chicken skin in the car. I've rarely experienced anything like that."
Afterwards, ABT readjusted the car to a suitable race setup for dry conditions as part of the regulations.
Frijns did not escape unscathed, Müller into top 10 with efficient driving
From the first row of the grid, things initially went well for ABT: Frijns maintained the lead ahead of Müller. For the Dutchman in particular, however, it was only to go to the back afterwards. After 40 rather unremarkable laps, he only finished in 17th place.
Müller, on the other hand, stayed in the rear top-10 positions throughout the race and eventually brought home ninth place - now also the first points in the race for ABT Cupra. He also booked the first points on his own driver account. This means that all the regular drivers have now scored points. Only ABT substitute Kelvin van der Linde failed to score any points in his appearances.
"It was another slipstream battle in which nobody wanted to lead," Müller looks back on the race. "We had to lead at one point in the beginning, but knew that it would then be difficult. Especially when you already don't have the most efficient package. That's why I tried to save energy behind the other cars and that worked quite well. I don't think we could get more out of it today with what we have. That's why I'm happy with ninth place."
Bottom line, Müller is "just happy for the whole team": "We scored points in the race under our own steam - I think hardly anyone dropped out before me. We've worked hard for this over the last few months. That's a boost, but under normal circumstances it still won't be easy to be among the front runners under our own steam. Nevertheless, we'll try to get in front even in dry conditions. Whenever an opportunity presents itself, we will grab it with both hands."
This next opportunity for points will come for ABT Cupra as early as the Monaco E-Prix in just under two weeks.