I think you’d be hard pushed to find a time when Daniel Abt doesn’t have a smile on his face. As you might expect, to go with that smile is one of the most approachable, generous and personable drivers you’ll find in the Formula E paddock and undoubtedly any paddock. Daniel Abt will make sure every last autograph is signed before making his move. But do nice guys win World Championships?…
Delve behind the likability and you’ll find a determined young racing driver with a passion to succeed. Abt has a number of significant second places to his name including runner up in the 2010 German F3 Cup and missing out on the 2012 GP3 title by just a single point!
The Audi Sport ABT driver now finds himself lining up alongside an incredibly tough teammate in Lucas Di Grassi; a driver who himself narrowly missed out on the inaugural Formula E WDC. With what looks to be a competitive car this season, the German is ready to make his mark…
So Daniel, it was a very up and down season for you last year, you scored points, set fastest race lap, but also finished outside the top 10 on a few occasions and suffered DNF’s. How do you feel your first season went in Formula E?
Okaaay… It could have been much better I think. We had a lot of races where pace was good, where we just didn’t finish where we should have. If you look at the qualifying performance compared to the race performance I think I missed a lot in the races. It was good to show that I’m able to have the speed to fight at the top, but for sure I have to improve to also finish where I start and to achieve better results.
Of course you’ve got a very tough teammate to compete against as well. What is it like to work and race alongside Lucas? Have you been able to learn a lot from him?
Yeah definitely!… In my opinion he is the best teammate I’ve ever had and for me he is also one of the best drivers in this field. He’s a very competitive guy, a very clever guy and he’s been involved in Formula E since the beginning. Obviously he has a certain age which also gives him a lot of experience, he’s working with Audi so he really knows what racing is all about. He’s a tough teammate to have for sure, but it’s also good for me because I can learn a lot! Last year I was able to out qualify him a few times, it should have been a bit more often maybe *smiles*, but I have another chance now. I think for us as a team and for me it’s very good to have him and hopefully we’re going to have a good season together.
And of course the two of you with the team stole the headlines during week two of testing; with first yourself and then Lucas breaking the lap record around Donington Park. You must be happy with how testing has gone so far? What are your impressions of the new car?
It’s hard to say, you never really know where you are until Beijing; but for sure we see that we’ve improved compared to last year. We see that we are competitive in terms of lap times, we have almost no reliability issues which is the most important part, our car does not break down on track; I think if you look at other teams they have struggled much more than us. So I am happy with the work we’ve done, for sure there are a lot of things still to work on, but so far we’re looking good and it’s always good to have a lap record.
Schaeffler Technologies have partnered with ABT to build the powertrain for this year, how are you finding the package to drive?
Well our aim was to reduce weight in order to make it more efficient so we’ve worked on that and of course we have a little bit more torque on the engine, we have the rear suspension… it’s not massive, it’s of course still the same car; but tiny bits here and there and it all adds up in every corner to gain a few hundredths.
Of course you’ve also taken to the World Endurance Championship this year with Rebellion Racing. Can you tell us your plans for the future in WEC, do you hope to run a career in it alongside Formula E?
Yeah first of all I’m going to finish this season, that was always the plan. To do the 24hrs for the first time was a good experience…
and a great result as well [a win in the LMP1 Privateer Class]…
Yeah it was good! we didn’t have that much competition but still, we had strong teammates to fight up against and therefore it was good for us to finish on top, and of course for us to finish, that is something you have to do first at Le Mans. Now I’m looking forward to the rest of the year and then next year I still don’t know what is going to happen, but like I’ve always said Formula E has priority.
Now I’ve read that you’re a bit of a gamer, is that right?
*laughs* yeah it’s true…
Do you ever use the PlayStation to learn circuits that you haven’t been to?
I did that yeah. It depends because sometimes you don’t get the circuit you want, especially with Formula E because those tracks are not made in racing games yet so it’s tough… but yeah for tracks you find in Formula 1 I would do that.
Favourite PlayStation game?…
The Last of Us!
Good choice. And you’re in to your music too of course!
Yeah I like to listen to Hip-Hop and I like rappers like Rick Ross, Drake, all those guys. I’ll listen to it a lot with friends but not really on race day.
And lastly then Daniel, what would you say is your goal for the second Formula E season?
Well I think always when you start racing somewhere you have to aim for the win. It’s not easy here, there’s a lot of competition going on. We don’t know yet where we are with our package, but I think it’s just very important to improve from last year and hopefully we’ll achieve good results.
Thank you very much Daniel!
For me, Daniel Abt is one of those drivers that you want to see do well in year two. As he mentioned at times he has all the speed it takes, it’s just a case of putting it together in the race and in that regard, he will have learnt a great deal last year and from his teammate to carry in to the new season. Always studying the data, always pushing to get the most out of the car, Daniel knows he should have had a better season last year and with a car that looks to be delivering this year, it would be exciting to see him take the fight to Di Grassi and competing up at the front.
by Tom Clancy @Retro_F1