Formula E: Müller lets ABT rejoice in Rome as Biermaier hints at dissatisfaction with Mahindra & ZF
ABT Cupra celebrated its best result since rejoining Formula E in Rome with a sixth-place finish from Nico Müller on Saturday. In the second race, the Swiss driver made it into the points for a second time from 19th on the grid. His teammate Robin Frijns, on the other hand, came away empty-handed in Italy. ABT boss Thomas Biermaier seems to slowly lose patience with powertrain supplier Mahindra after repeated software problems.
Already in the rookie practice, the two cars with Mahindra powertrains completed only a single installation lap each. For ABT driver Adrien Tambay, the "Free Practice 0" was therefore not the hoped-for opportunity for more track time in the Gen3 car. Before the first Free Practice it became clear that the technical problem affected all cars: None of the four Mahindra-powered drivers set a competitive lap time, with the cars completing only a handful of installation laps.
"It was determined that there was a bug in the software," ABT boss Thomas Biermaier described to ProSieben. "That one could not be fixed so quickly. The engineers from Mahindra and ZF got together and had to build new software overnight. They had to find the problem first and then solve it."
"Half an hour is a very, very long time in motorsport"
"After that, they were on the dyno and had to free-ride the software," he explained further. "You play it safe there, it's important that way. Then on Saturday morning we got the new software installed and were half an hour behind. That doesn't sound like much, but half an hour is very, very much in motorsport."
This left only one free practice session on Saturday in which ABT could prepare for qualifying. Despite the lack of experience, Nico Müller and Robin Frijns managed to finish 14th and 17th respectively. While Frijns was involved-in-the-mass-pileup and retired, Müller fought Jake Dennis and Jean-Eric Vergne to the finish. He finished sixth.
"I was lining up there with a parallel flight of JEV (Vergne) and Jake (Dennis)," Nico Müller described his Saturday race to e-Formula.news. "That was a bit tough because we had significantly more energy than Jake. But he just defended superbly. He saved a lot of energy where he could. As the third car in a train it's difficult, I always had to go to the outside lane where it's often quite dirty. I tried it two or three times but didn't stand a chance. But that's a minor matter in the end. Basically, we can be very satisfied. It's going in the right direction. And it feels good to take home a points result."
Leaves in radiator destroy Frijns hopes
On Sunday, things went well again for Müller after a difficult qualifying session, and he made it to the finish line in tenth place. Frijns, on the other hand, struggled with overheating problems as leaves had accumulated in his radiator. He pitted his car a few laps before the end of the race.
Team-mate Müller summed up on Sunday at ProSieben: "The track characteristics should not necessarily suit us in theory, which was confirmed in qualifying with hot temperatures and plenty of grip. But in the race we were going strong. So we are positively surprised, and (the points) we are very happy to take. The plan for London is to finish the season on a positive note and once again hopefully get both cars in the points."
In the overall standings, ABT Cupra sits in eleventh and last place ahead of the final race weekend in London, just behind the Mahindra factory team. The team will have its last opportunity to score points on July 29 and 30.