Just Electric

Audi’s comeback for the ages

After two successive seasons in the shadow of Renault e.Dams in the Constructors’ Championship, many pundits viewed Audi as the favourites heading into Season Four.

Yet, their season couldn’t have started much worse.

After the first four ePrix’s of the season, the German marque only had 12 points; all of which were courtesy of Daniel Abt.

Furthermore, defending champion Lucas di Grassi had failed to score a single point after suffering an array of technical failures, thus killing off any realistic chance of defending his Drivers’ title.

However, Audi managed to overcome their technical gremlins over the course of the season, claiming three victories and eight further podiums to beat privateers Techeetah to the Constructors’ crown by just two points.

Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler's 2017-18 ABB FIA Formula E Statistics:

Wins: 4

Podiums (not including wins): 7

Poles: 1

Fastest Laps: 7

Championship Points: 264

Constructors’ Championship: 1st

Despite their teething problems in the early stages of the season, Audi did demonstrate that they had race pace from the get go.

Daniel Abt had seemingly won the second race of the double header in Hong Kong, but was later disqualified after a breach of the technical regulations.

Di Grassi also showed promise in the following ePrix at Marrakesh, moving up to fourth place after Lap 4, only for his car to die on him amid a battle with the Jaguar of his arch-rival, Nelson Piquet Jr.

In Santiago, Audi’s issues seemed never-ending as both drivers failed to make the finish.

Then in Mexico City, the miraculous turnaround began.

After passing Renault’s Sébastien Buemi for second, Daniel Abt jumped the NIO of Oliver Turvey during the pit stop phase to claim his first ever Formula E victory.

Audi looked stronger as the season progressed and Di Grassi became an ever-present figure on the podium.

The team’s best moment of the campaign was undoubtedly the Berlin ePrix, which saw Abt dominate the race and take the chequered flag.

Behind the German, Di Grassi carved his way through the field to finish second and give Audi their first 1-2 finish in Formula E, at their home ePrix.

Di Grassi would then make it a hat-trick of race wins for Audi in Zürich and the first race in Brooklyn, before their double podium in the season finale gave them the Constructors’ Title.

 

Lucas di Grassi

Wins: 2

Podiums (not including wins): 5

Poles: 0

Fastest Laps: 2

Drivers’ Championship: 2nd (144 points)

Following such a dreadful to start to the season through no fault of his own, Lucas di Grassi was left to watch his title defence become non-existent, as the frontrunners ran off into the distance.

But Di Grassi wasn’t one to give up, and after securing his first two points of the season after his ninth-place finish in the Mexico City ePrix, the Season Three champion went on a remarkable run of seven consecutive podium appearances.

This included two triumphs in Zürich and New York respectively, the first of which he’d dedicate to his son, Leonardo.

Speaking after the race, Di Grassi stated his relief at finally winning again:

“I’m super happy, it was a great race.”

“This victory was just slipping through my fingers at the other races, but we manage to do it here [in Zürich].”

The Brazilian also had some exciting on track encounters with Vergne, in which the two drivers bashed into each other on numerous occasions; most notably at Punta del Este.

And if it weren’t Di Grassi’s early season woes, he could’ve ended up being Formula E’s first ever two-time champion.

Regardless, he’ll hope to use his end of season form as momentum for the Season Five opener in Riyadh, and fight to reclaim his Drivers’ Title.

Daniel Abt

Wins: 2

Podiums (not including wins): 2

Poles: 1

Fastest Laps: 5

Drivers’ Championship: 5th (120 points)

Despite having what was by far his best season in Formula E to date, Daniel Abt’s points tally could’ve been much higher.

After Edoardo Mortara spun out of the lead for Venturi in Hong Kong, Abt had seemingly inherited his maiden win in the all-electric series, on his 25th birthday no less.

However, the German was later disqualified after the stewards found Audi had breached the regulations regarding the technical barcodes on his car.

Moreover, during the Punta del Este ePrix, Abt was in contention for a podium when he was forced to make an unscheduled pit stop after his seat belts came loose and ended up with nothing.

On the other hand, there were a lot of positives to take away from this season.

Firstly, Abt recorded five fastest laps; more than any other driver.

In comparison to prior campaigns, Abt looked like a more complete driver and has seemingly ironed out the mistakes which hampered him in the past.

He also showed a level of maturity that some felt he was lacking in years gone by, and his controlled race in Berlin was a masterclass performance.

“We have an Audi 1-2, our best ever result,” stated Abt after the race.

“A home win for me, everyone at Audi, everyone in the garage can be super proud of what we have achieved today.”

Abt has finally managed to prove his critics wrong and prove he that he is in the team based on talent, rather than his father, Hans-Jürgen, being the team principal.

Aaron Lloyd Collins

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