ABT begins the new Formula E season in Hong Kong

Everything back to zero: On Sunday (October 9), the new season of the electric racing series Formula E starts in Hong Kong. ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport, with its two drivers Daniel Abt and Lucas di Grassi, is the only German team. Having scored altogether ten podium spots and a second place in the Championship, the team was among the protagonists last time round.

New teams, new drivers, new manufacturers, new tracks, new develop-ments: Formula E starts its third season with high voltage. The opener is also a premiere: For the first time in the electric racing series, a race will be held on the streets of the Asian city of Hong Kong on October 9. For Team ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport and its international co-competitors, it is the beginning of a tour that will travel from Asia to Africa, South and Central America to Europe and finally to North America. The finale: At the end of July in New York with the Manhattan skyline and the Statue of Liberty as a backdrop.

The sole German team starts anew with Daniel Abt (23) and Lucas di Grassi (32) in the cockpits of the ABT Schaeffler FE02, the name given to the electric racing car. Together, the German-Brazilian duo claimed second place in the team championship last season, whilst di Grassi missed out on the drivers’ title in the final race by a mere two points. The anticipation is suitably high. “After a bronze and a silver medal, only a gold is missing from our collection”, says a grinning Lucas di Grassi. The South American knows only too well the strength of the competition: “We are highly motivated and for sure want to play a leading role again. But teams and drivers will be even more closely aligned. We are about to experience the most diverse and per-haps most exciting Formula E season yet.”

Teammate Daniel Abt wants to take the momentum of the last few months into the new season. In the second half of the season with three podium spots, the young gun was also one of the strongest. “I have always felt more settled in Formula E, and on top of this we have had some really good test runs recently”, says Abt. “But we will only know in Hong Kong where we really stand compared to the competition. However what we do know is that we have a good reliable car and a strong team – that makes me optimistic for the opener.”

Hans-Jürgen Abt confirms this feeling. “We have done our homework and prepared as best as possible”, said the team boss who, with his DTM team, is fighting for the title at Hockenheim, only one week after the Formula E season opener. “Now, the cars are already in Hong Kong, and our engineers, mechanics and drivers are raring to go for the first race. It feels good to be underway again.”

Race day for the opener is on Sunday as opposed to the usual Saturday. The start is at 4:00pm local time (10:00am CEST). As always in Formula E, free training, qualifying and race all take place within hours of each other –plenty of action for the spectators, a nerve-wracking day for the drivers and the teams. The race itself lasts about 50 minutes, and halfway through is a stop that includes a car change in the pits.

After the event in Hong Kong, Formula E celebrates its premiere in Marra-kesh (Morocco) on November 12. The winter break before the next race in Buenos Aires on February 18 is broken up by a virtual race in Las Vegas, where the drivers will compete against each other and fans as part of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) on January 7. There, it’s not about points, but a cash prize of a million dollars.

Interview: A word from team boss Hans-Jürgen Abt

What are your thoughts going into Hong Kong?

Hans-Jürgen Abt: “First of all a great deal of anticipation. The summer break was not particularly long, but still it’s nice that after all the testing it’s getting serious again. And the Premiere in Hong Kong is already a real high-light at the beginning of the season for all drivers and teams.”

What kind of goals have you set for the third season?

Hans-Jürgen Abt: “That’s easy to answer. Wherever Abt competes, we have the same aim: We want to win races and fight for the title. We succeeded in that in the first two seasons, although whether it is possible to do it again we can only guess in Hong Kong. We have done our homework and prepared as best as possible.”

Who do you expect to be your toughest competitors?

Hans Jürgen Abt: “The times in Formula E when you could speak of one or two main competitors are now gone. I am expecting a much closer fight than in the first two years, and greater parity in overall performance. On the grid, there are only strong teams and very strong teams – of course, I hope we belong to the latter”

What track are you looking forward to most this season?

Hans-Jürgen Abt: “Conversely: Is there a single location on the calendar that you’re not looking forward to? I want to express huge compliments to Alejandro Agag and the whole Formula E organization for managing to create such a calendar. Races in the hearts of Hong Kong, Marrakesh, Paris, Berlin or New York – that is unique in motorsport history.”

FIA Formula E online and on social media

Websites: abt-sportsline.de, danielabt.de, lucasdigrassi.com.br
Twitter: @FIAformulaE, @abt_formula_e, @Daniel_Abt, @LucasdiGrassi
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YouTube: FIAFormulaE, ABTSportslineTV, AbtDaniel