Sunday, January 11, 2015

Formula E: Lucas di Grassi defends Formula E lead despite scoring no points

ABT Sportsline Press Release

After three successes in the first three races Team ABT Sportsline is travelling back to Germany from a Formula E event without a trophy for the first time.

Both the Brazilian Lucas di Grassi and youngster Daniel Abt retired from round four of the racing series for fully electric single-seater race cars in the heart of Buenos Aires. Despite the outcome Lucas di Grassi defended his lead in the overall standings.

Around 20,000 spectators lining the circuit in Argentina’s capital and fans around the world in front of their TV sets witnessed the most thrilling event in the young Formula E history. The race on the 2,440-kilometre circuit in the Puerto Madero district on the banks of the Río de la Plata was again decided only on the last laps of the total of 35 and, in António Félix da Costa, saw a surprising winner.

Lucas di Grassi and Daniel Abt from Team ABT Sportsline had previously been among the protagonists in Buenos Aires. Di Grassi had started from position five, advanced to third place by the eighth lap and on lap 24 took the lead. His advance had been guaranteed by consistently fast lap times, strong overtaking manoeuvres on the narrow city street circuit and a perfect car change in the pits of his squad. The joy, however, was only short-lived. With the second victory of the season already in his mind’s eye, the right rear suspension of his formula car broke and the Brazilian, while clearly leading the race, was forced to retire.

A fate that struck his team-mate Daniel Abt on the last lap as well. In the turbulent race the German had advanced to the front point-scoring positions after having started from twelfth on the grid but during an overtaking manoeuvre hit a rival and was forced to retire with a damaged car. A gesture of fairness: immediately after the race, the 22-year-old Abt accepted the blame for the accident and personally apologised.

In spite of scoring no points in Argentina Lucas di Grassi defended his lead in the overall standings, now ranking ten points in front of Sam Bird and 15 ahead of Sébastien Buemi. Like his team-mate, Daniel Abt remained without any points for the first time this season. In the teams’ classification ABT Sportsline, after four race weekends, occupies third place in the group of ten international outfits.

The round in Buenos Aires was the fourth of ten races of the FIA Formula E Championship which includes visits to Asia, Uruguay, Argentina, the USA, Monaco, Great Britain and Germany. After a short break, round five will follow in North America. On 14 March 2015 Daniel Abt and company will be racing in the streets of Miami (USA).

Drivers and team director – that’s what they say

Hans-Jürgen Abt, team director: “This was a day to forget. Today we had the chance to make a clean sweep because Lucas’ second victory of the season was already within reach. Instead, we’re going home empty-handed. But we’ve been in racing long enough to know that this is part and parcel of a long season. ‘Well done’ to the pit crew that did a zero-defects job despite the incredible temperatures. We’re keeping our heads up and are going to attack again in the USA.”

Lucas di Grassi (BR, 30, #11): “Today I almost had victory in my hands. The car felt perfect, our strategy and energy management worked perfectly, and so did the pit stop. But then, eight laps before the finish, the suspension broke without any external influence and as a result I touched the wall. We did everything right – and as strange as this may sound – we had a strong day. And I defended the lead in the Championship. We’re going to take these positive aspects with us into the short break and are going to return to the next race in Miami even stronger.”

Daniel Abt (D, 22, #66): “It was a turbulent race with many duels and overtaking manoeuvres. After a good start in which I recovered two positions I was in the middle of the action for a long time. That was good fun. Unfortunately, during an attack on the final lap, I hit Jaime (Alguersuari) in the commotion. I’m happy that he was able to continue to drive but, still, the contact was my fault.”

Photo credit: ABT Sportsline