Hans-Jürgen Abt: "Extraordinary performance by the team and its partners"
Interview with Hans-Jürgen Abt, ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport team owner who draws his conclusion about the second Formula E season.
With ten podium finishes to its name, ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport celebrated more podiums than any other team. Hans-Jürgen Abt draws his conclusion about the second Formula E season in this interview, recounts his personal highlights and offers a view on the future of the electric racing series.
The second Formula E season is now history. What's your take?
Formula E is developing rapidly. The team around Alejandro Agag is not resting on its laurels, but is in fact introducing innovative ideas to push the series forward. A good example of this is the new calendar, which in my opinion is an absolute highlight. The path of least resistance is never chosen, but rather the best solution is always sought together with the teams and partners. We are proud to be a part of the Formula E family.
Just how satisfied are you with second place in both the drivers' and teams' classifications?
Very satisfied after having had a few days between the finale and today to digest everything. We shouldn't forget that Formula E is competitive sport at the highest international level. We compete as ABT against manufacturers like Renault or Citroën DS. In this field, to take trophies and wins and to fight for the title down the last race is an extraordinary performance by the entire team and its partners. When you have the title within grasp on the final weekend, you need to take a step back to fully appreciate this.
The last race in particular and the collision between Lucas di Grassi and Sébastien Buemi gave rise to much discussion. Your assessment?
One thing is clear: nobody wants a collision between two title candidates on the first lap of the decisive race - not us, or the competition and also the fans. On top of this comes the fact that Lucas is without doubt one of the most cautious drivers on the grid - otherwise he would not have mounted the podium eight times this season. It is also clear that he had to take more risks in the last race in order to have any chance against Sébastien Buemi. It is for this fighting spirit that he is so highly regarded by many fans. For this reason, it was the aim to overtake Nicolas Prost as soon as possible. Unfortunately he touched him in the process and then collided with Buemi. The collision was unfortunate, but the championship was not decided by this. I believe everyone would be well advised to congratulate Séb and Renault for winning the title, and acknowledge Lucas for one of his strongest seasons ever.
Daniel Abts third podium at the finale went a little unnoticed in all the confusion. How do you gauge his achievement?
Obviously, his thoughts were also with Lucas and the title battle, but I'm sure that he enjoyed the lively crowd on the Podium nevertheless. The champagne was richly deserved since he had yet another strong weekend. Three times on the podium this year, two second places ! I hope for him that the first victory isn't too long in coming.
What was your personal highlight of the season?
The race in Long Beach with Lucas' win and Daniel's third place. It was our first double podium in Formula E, but what was even more important was that it was a perfect comeback after Lucas was disqualified in Mexico after the team made a mistake. Everyone was under enormous pressure and had perhaps secretly given up on the title, and then the team came up trumps before going on to take the next victory in Paris three weeks later. These were moments that were very emotional and special.
2014/2015 two thirds, now two seconds, what must be done so that the title can be won next season?
Fortunately victory in racing is not predictable, in no discipline. We have to do our homework in the summer and this starts with developing a winning car for Daniel and Lucas. We are currently hard at work on this together with Schaeffler and other partners. Next week we are off testing again in Southern Europe. And then for everybody - drivers and team to the same extent - to make no mistakes on every single race weekend. I expect an even closer fight in the coming year and even more teams that will be fighting for race wins and the title.
How does your team's schedule look before the season starts?
October still seems as if it's a long way away, but preparations are already in full swing. I'm happy that we have already ticked off a few important points: our ABT Schaeffler FE02 has been homologated by the FIA, our driver line-up with Daniel and Lucas is fixed, the most important partners like Schaeffler are still on board. We are currently having some interesting discussions, so that I think there could be some good news to be announced. Testing commences soon including the official days at Donington and a small presentation by our team in September, and before you know it we are sat in a plane again heading for Hong Kong where the new season starts on October 9.
How do you like the recently announced calendar?
I think it's excellent. Many thought that races through Paris or Berlin are unbeatable. And now we will really contest our finale in the streets of New York. Locations like Montreal or Marrakesh are also impressive, Berlin and Monaco will be magnificent like always. We are looking forward to the next tour with Formula E.
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