Official: Kelvin von der Linde joins ABT Cupra in Saudi Arabia as Formula E replacement for Robin Frijns
After his accident on the starting lap of the Mexico City E-Prix, Robin Frijns is expected to be out for several weeks. The former Audi reserve driver and DTM driver Kelvin van der Linde is available to Team ABT Cupra as a reserve driver. The 26-year-old will make his Formula E debut in just over a week in Diriyya, as the team announced on Thursday morning..
"We are in constant contact with Robin and continue to wish him a speedy recovery," said ABT team boss Thomas Biermaier. "Even though everyone in the team misses him very much, we are giving him all the time he needs to fully recover from the injury - that has absolute priority." The Dutchman had broken his wrist and four other bones in his left hand in the collision with the Nissan of Norman Nato. Even a bone had stuck out of the hand, Frijns himself explained. He was operated still in Mexico. The surgery went well, ABT reported.
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In place of Frijns, Kelvin van der Linde will climb into the car for ABT at the Diriyya E-Prix. "Kelvin has been part of the ABT family for years in a variety of roles. He has been involved since
the beginning of our comeback project and was always intended as a reserve driver, so it was immediately clear to us that he would take over Robin's cockpit," says Biermaier.
"The task and challenge for him to start in a world championship race without any testing is of course gigantic. But Kelvin is highly motivated, works hard, and the whole team will support him without any pressure."
Since the decision on Sunday, van der Linde, who also lives in Kempten, has spent every day from morning until late evening at ABT, the team explains. On the agenda: regulations, operating instructions for the race car, data analysis and countless hours in the simulator. Van der Linde has the E license required for Formula E. It is not yet clear how long he will deputize for Frijns.
Van der Linde: "Racing in Formula E is a dream of mine"
"To compete in Formula E is a dream of mine - but of course I imagined the circumstances of my debut to be different. I am very sorry for Robin, and I hope he will be fit again quickly," said van der Linde. "I'm happy about the confidence and the challenge. Now I have a few long days ahead of me and then I will do my best to represent Robin as well as possible."
Van der Linde had already mentioned Formula E as an option for his future in the fall. "I have a good connection with ABT, I also see a future with ABT. They just announced their Formula E program, so there is definitely a future there, a long-term vision to stay in partnership with Mahindra," van der Linde told 'Motorsport-Total.com' in October.
Van der Linde competed for ABT in the DTM in 2021 and 2022, while being a title contender all the way to the finale in his debut season. In Formula E, he contested the rookie test for Audi in Marrakech on March 1, 2020. The South African achieved the best time in the morning session. A year later, he also competed for Audi in the "Accelerate" simracing league. In addition, he is supporting ABT Cupra in simulator preparation this season.
This is the third time a van der Linde has been a reserve driver in Formula E: Kelvin's brother Sheldon was reserve driver for BMW i Andretti in the 2021 season. Van der Linde would be the first African entry driver in Formula E history and could also have a home race in the event of a lengthy retirement for Frijns: The Cape Town E-Prix will be held for the first time on February 25.