"Hotly anticipating Mexico" & own anniversary: ABT celebrates 100th Formula E race at season opener
For the ABT Cupra team, the Mexico City E-Prix on Saturday is a very special race: Not only is Lucas di Grassi returning to the Kempten-based team after two seasons for Venturi and Mahindra. The team is also contesting its 100th race in Formula E with the 2024 Formula E World Championship season opener - and is aiming for regular points finishes in season 10.
14 race wins, 47 podiums, 6 pole positions, 1,401 points: Despite a year out of Formula E and a challenging comeback season in 2023 with inferior Mahindra drivetrains, ABT is still one of the most successful teams in the history of the electric racing series. In addition to winning the very first Formula E race in Beijing in 2014, the drivers' title for Lucas di Grassi in season 3, the "perfect race" in Berlin in 2018 (pole position, race win and fastest lap for Daniel Abt, 2nd place for di Grassi) and winning the teams' championship in New York City in 2018 will also be remembered.
A look into the @FIAFormulaE history books:- ABT Motorsport (@abtmotorsport) January 11, 2024
? First race, first victory
? 2016/17 Drivers' Champion: @LucasdiGrassi
? The perfect home race
? 2017/18 Teams' Champion: Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler#ABTCUPRAFE #ABT #FormulaE #ThrowbackThursday pic.twitter.com/9pOxl7Yqug
In 2024, things are set to pick up again for ABT. Following the withdrawal of Audi, the team did not compete in 2022. The final decision for the 2023 comeback was made very late - with consequences: The team had not even fully assembled the new Gen3 cars in the factory halls in the Allgäu before the pre-season tests in Valencia. The season became a test of character, as even the drive supplied by Mahindra was not competitive. In Cape Town, the team even had to abandon a start after a problem with the suspension of the cars.
Only at the home race in Berlin was ABT able to impress: Robin Frijns and Nico Müller were in a league of their own in qualifying on a wet track and secured the front row. In the race, they were unable to keep up with the pace of the top drivers as the track dried out, but their performances stabilised by the end of the season. Nevertheless, at the end of the season they only finished eleventh and last in the teams' standings.
"We're really looking forward to the new season," says team principal Thomas Biermaier ahead of the Mexico City E-Prix. "But the tension is also high: after a year full of challenges, we want to take the next steps in 2024, score points consistently and perhaps spring a surprise here and there. Even if the technical requirements are largely the same as last year, we and our team will give it our all."
Lucas di Grassi: "Drivers are treated like rock stars in Mexico"
"The team has remained almost completely the same, with Lucas returning as a long-standing member of our family," continues Biermaier. "We're all excited about Mexico and the whole season with its old and new locations."
"It would be a dream come true if the season consisted of 17 races in Mexico," enthuses returnee Lucas di Grassi. "The weekend in Mexico is not only different on the track, but also in the paddock, because we drivers are treated like rock stars here. The fans are more enthusiastic than anywhere else in the world - the perfect place for the season opener."
"It's great that it's finally starting again," agrees team-mate Nico Müller. "I've been training hard over the past few months to get fit again after my shoulder injury. I'm ready and looking forward to the start of the season. I was in the simulator in Kempten to prepare, and you can see the growing anticipation and excitement among all the engineers and mechanics there too."
Daniel Abt once again TV pundit in Germany
The Abt name will also remain on TV for German fans: Following the exit of ProSieben, the new broadcast partner DF1 has secured the services of former driver Daniel Abt as co-commentator and expert for its Formula E broadcasts. Abt drove a total of 69 races in the electric racing series from 2014 to 2020, 63 of them for his family team. He has fond memories of Mexico: On 3 March 2018, he won his first Formula E race.
Free practice 1 for the Hankook Mexico City E-Prix is scheduled for this Friday (23:30 CET). The race starts on Saturday evening at 9pm (CET).