DTM race winner Kelvin van der Linde will make his Formula E debut with Abt Cupra Formula E team in Saudi Arabia, replacing the injured Robin Frijns.
Frijns suffered fractures in his left hand during a collision in the opening Formula E race of the 2022-23 season in Mexico City. The Dutchman underwent surgery that same day, but will not be recovered in time for the Diryah E-Prix which takes place next weekend.
“We are in constant contact with Robin and wish him a speedy recovery,” said team boss Thomas Biermaier. “Even though everyone in the team misses him a lot, we’re giving him all the time he needs to fully recover from the injury – that’s our absolute priority.”
Frijns will be replaced by DTM driver van der Linde. Though the South African driver has limited single seater experience, he has been involved with the Abt Formula E team since before their return to the championship.
Van der Linde has also run in the rookie test in 2020 and has worked in the simulator for Abt as the team prepared for the 2022-23 season.
“Kelvin has been part of the Abt family for years in a variety of roles,” said Biermaier. “He has been involved since the beginning of our comeback project and was intended as Reserve Driver right from the start – so it was immediately clear to us that he would take over from Robin.
“The task and challenge for Kelvin to start in a World Championship without any testing is of course gigantic but he is highly motivated, works hard and the whole team will support him without any pressure.”
“To compete in Formula E is a dream of mine – but of course I wanted the circumstances of my debut to be different,” said van der Linde. “I’m very sorry for Robin and I hope he’ll be fit again quickly.
“I am happy about the trust and the challenge. Now I have a few long days ahead of me and then I will do my best to stand in for Robin as well as possible.”
Van der Linde will be the first South African driver to compete in the FIA Formula E championship. HIs debut comes in the same year the series will visit Cape Town, South Africa, for the first time.
Image courtesy of Abt Cupra Formula E team