Formula E

Formula E: "Strange" brake problems plague ABT Cupra in India, Müller just misses top 10

Tobias Bluhm

Tobias Bluhm

Even after the Hyderabad E-Prix, the German team ABT Cupra is the only Formula E racing team that has yet to score any points in the 2023 season. However, the team from Kempten came closer than ever to its first top-10 success in India: Nico Müller drove the fastest lap of the E-Prix, but only finished in eleventh place. Kelvin van der Linde had to deal with "strange" brake problems throughout the weekend

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When things don't go well, Kelvin van der Linde also has bad luck. The South African gave up two weeks ago at the Diriyya E-Prix his unexpected Formula E debut because Robin Frijns had broken his hand in an accident in Mexico . The races in Saudi Arabia became a baptism of fire for van der Linde, which was not rewarded with points. And last weekend in Hyderabad, too, he failed to put an exclamation mark on any of the sessions.

But that was not only due to the Formula E experience gap compared to his opponents. For technically, little went according to plan for van der Linde in Hyderabad. In the shakedown, the 26-year-old slid into the tire piles of turn 3 because his car did not decelerate as hoped. A similar problem befell him in group qualifying on Saturday, in which he once again slid into the emergency exit of a corner with locked front wheels.

That this was merely a driving error is unlikely. After all, van der Linde also reported a "strange driving sensation" on the radio after a few corners in the race, whereupon the team called the youngster back to the pits to abandon the race. The cause of the problem has not yet been identified. ABT currently suspects a "technical defect around the battery."

At least with Nico Müller, the potential of the ABT team was apparent at the Hyderabad E-Prix. The Swiss started the race from 18th place, but kept away from the at times confusing duels in front of him in the E-Prix and reached the finish just outside the points in 11th place. In addition, he drove the fastest lap of the race. This is usually worth a bonus point, which, however, is only awarded to the fastest driver inside of the top 10. The extra point was therefore collected by Norman Nato (Nissan)

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Upward trend gives courage for Cape Town

"This was an event with ups and downs, but also an upward trend," Müller says of his E-Prix. "With a better starting position, more would probably have been possible. But even so, we're taking a lot of positives with us to South Africa." ABT team boss Thomas Biermaier also thinks: "Our steps are going in the right direction."

The Managing Director of ABT Sportsline praises, "We had the chance to fight for a good grid position for the first time in qualifying. We have to build on this in South Africa, then we will also soon have the first points on the account. We're still nowhere near where we want to be, but the whole team is pulling together magnificently, and the upward trend is encouraging for the performance in Cape Town!"

The race at the Cape of Good Hope is scheduled for February 25, 2023. Whether Robin Frijns will be back in the ABT car there, or Kelvin van der Linde will be allowed to contest his home race, is to be decided later this week. On Wednesday, both will contest a joint preparation session in the simulator in Kempten - also to check whether Frijns is already fit to race again after his injury.

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