"Exhausting week with night shifts & long sessions" - ABT Cupra sums up pre-testing in Valencia
Pre-season testing in Valencia last week marked the start of the tenth Formula E season. The German ABT Cupra team completed 500 laps, covering around 1,600 test kilometres, and diligently collected data to further develop the car. Despite improvements in the software, the Kempten-based team is still cautious about its goals for 2024 due to the backlog from the previous year.
The tests in Valencia were also the comeback of Lucas di Grassi in the ABT livery. After leaving Audi, the Brazilian first moved to Venturi and then to Mahindra with the start of Gen3. Now he is back with the Kempten-based team and delighted about it: "It felt great to come back to the team and be with the guys for a whole week," says the 2017 champion.
"It was a mixture of hard work on and off the track, but also a lot of fun with many familiar faces," di Grassi says. "It's a trusting relationship with all the engineers, mechanics and my teammate Nico (Müller). We push each other and we all have the same goal: to come to Mexico as prepared as possible."
In a team Instagram story, he added that ABT had made a lot of improvements to the car and that he was very happy about the progress. However, the results couldn't quite reflect that. In the shortened session on Tuesday, Nico Müller made it to eighth place, while di Grassi was twelfth. On Thursday, both drivers still managed to finish just inside the top 15, before Müller was only 18th on Friday. Di Grassi finished the test week in 15th place.
Biermaier: "Too early for an assessment of the situation"
"First of all, my thanks go to the whole team and our two drivers," said ABT CEO and Team Principal Thomas Biermaier. "It was an exhausting week with some night shifts, long sessions and always new challenges, which our team mastered perfectly."
"Of course, it's too early to really assess where we stand, but it's clear that this time we're starting the season in a completely different way than we did a year ago. We'll take all our experiences, impressions and several gigabytes of data with us to Kempten as homework. Now the hot preparation phase begins until the season opener in Mexico."
For the German racing team, this phase could make a significant difference to the outcome of the upcoming Formula E season, as the team has had to carry a heavy burden since the beginning of last season: due to performance-related disadvantages of the Mahindra power unit, ABT was mostly left behind. This is unlikely to change too much in 2024, as the hardware remains unchanged.
Goal for 2024: "Regularly finish in the points with both cars"
"We are aware that we are still fighting with the same teams that were in front last year," Xavi Sierra, Head of Racing at ABT partner Cupra told Autosport. "I hope we have made a bigger step forward than our competitors."
"We feel that we have improved in software management, which is a big part of the success in Formula E," Sierra continued. "Therefore, our realistic goal is to regularly finish in the points with both cars, even if it gets complicated."
The team will have its first chance to score points in just under 75 days' time at the season opener in Mexico City on 13 January 2024.