02 Jul 20

Daniel Abt focussed on driving NIO 333 forward at ‘special’ showdown in Berlin

Daniel Abt’s stepping into the breach at NIO 333 for the nine-day six-race season-defining finale in Berlin starting August 5, and feels he and his new team have a lot to gain from each other - with the aim of finishing on a real high.

The German, twice a race-winner in Formula E, makes a rapid return to the Formula E grid after his move away from Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler during the lockdown period, and will partner Oliver Turvey in place of Ma Qinghua for the remainder of the season due to the latter’s coronavirus travel restrictions.

New surroundings

With the move from Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler, Abt ends a five-and-a-half-season association with the German automaker in Formula E, having been a fixture from the very first round of the series in Beijing, 2014.

It’ll no doubt take some adapting to, but the change is something Abt is relishing, citing the opportunity to share expertise and knowledge amid fresh surroundings and a new group of people, with the common goal of driving NIO 333 into the points and up the Teams’ standings.

"I have a great history with Audi and I’m happy that I had it. We had an amazing time together but it won’t be strange racing against them.
"We’re all professionals and I’m here to do the best job I can for NIO.
"I don’t care if it’s an Audi or any other car in front or behind me – I want to beat them."

“I haven’t changed team in six years, so it’s something new and honestly, I feel excited,” said Abt. “Working with new people and having new input going both ways will be great. It won’t be easy to adapt and we need to learn to understand each other, but it’s an exciting prospect.

“I have a great history with Audi and I’m happy that I had it. We had an amazing time together but it won’t be strange racing against them. We’re all professionals and I’m here to do the best job I can for NIO.

“I don’t care if it’s an Audi or any other car in front or behind me – I want to beat them.

“The first half of my season wasn’t great. I just didn’t feel very confident in the car. We weren’t really that strong starting the season, then I had a few technical issues and a big crash in Mexico which was a result of a software mistake.

“Going to Marrakech still not fully fit with a bit of back pain was very hard for me. It was just a very unusual start to the season. The good thing is that it means there's a lot to improve on.

“NIO has also had a tough season so far. I feel like there's a lot to gain for us together and we are motivated. We see this as a challenge and we want to finish the season on a high.

“The main focus is to gain that understanding between myself, the car, the software the systems and the team structure. Of course, the team will learn what I need from the car and how I work as a driver, too.

“We’ll spend time working in the simulator testing the car on-track, which will be crucial for me to get up to speed. We don’t have much time but we will use it as best we can to be the most prepared we can be for the races.

“I feel I’ve a lot to give. I've worked with a manufacturer for three years and I've learned a lot during six years in Formula E. 

“It’s good to have fresh ideas and that works both ways by having new people around me and I still have things to learn.

"With any change in environment with new people, there are things to gain and we will try to extract the most out of the knowledge we have together.”

'I'm Focussed on the last six races'

Abt’s attention is on the here and now – the six races in Berlin. He feels no additional pressure to perform with his future in the championship in-mind, and that hard work will reap rewards all-round.

“Now, I'm focussed on the last six races,” said the Kempten-born driver. “That's that's my aim – achieving good things together with the team. I'm not thinking ahead for a moment. Everything else will come afterwards. 

“If we do a good job, it's easier looking at season seven but now my full attention is on that job and whatever comes afterwards, we will see. 

“For me, there's no additional pressure or anything different. Whenever you arrive at a racetrack, you want to achieve things and you always have pressure anyway, so it’ll be nothing new from a personal point-of-view.”

Daniel Abt's Berlin 'Grand Slam'

The 'Grand Slam'

Berlin holds a special place in Abt’s heart. His breakthrough victory came Abt's way in 2018 when he signed off a career-defining perfect race weekend with a commanding lights-to-flag win on home soil in Berlin at the BMW i Berlin E-Prix, having also claimed pole position and the fastest lap – a unique feat in Formula E. Tempelhof’s treated him well.

“It will feel amazing to be to be back in a race car and to be back on track, and of course with a return to Berlin now, I’m super excited,” he said.

“Berlin is really something special. I’ve always had good races there. I love being with the fans and of course, although we’ll miss them this year, there’s still the spirit of the race and I feel a lot of energy from that.

“I had my most amazing moment in motorsport there and I’m pumped - I cannot wait."

Berlin six-pack

With three double-headers over nine days on three circuit layouts at Tempelhof Airport, Abt is anticipating a real shake-up in preparations and mindset over what is a completely unique motor racing proposition in the modern era.

“I think the biggest challenge will be for the teams and drivers to really deliver across six races,” said the 27-year-old. “You won’t have a lot of time in-between them so there’s not a lot you can work on and change.

“It’s just going to be so tough - very tiring for everyone in the team from the mechanics to us as drivers. You’ll just need to stay sharp and not make mistakes to get through all of it. So, it’s a big challenge, but we’re ready for it.

“It’s going to be physically tiring, as double-headers already are. Then, having only a day off and going back to do it all again is super tough. It’s not like these Formula E race days aren’t long already.

“Normally, you get in the simulator to prepare for the track with a lot of time beforehand. With the track changes over the nine days, we won’t have that opportunity. So, everything will change in terms of energy management and the rest of our projections.

"Oliver is a driver I have always rated super highly - I think everyone in Formula E does. He’s very quick and he’s also a great guy.

"I’m sure he’s going to push and we will work together as a team, not start fighting each other. We have the goal of being together and pushing the team forward.
"There are no egos."

“It’s tricky but the good thing is, it’s the same for everyone. It’ll be a bit of a throwback to classic motor racing with not much time to prepare, so we’re going to have to be spot on with the decisions we make.

“We can’t waste any time or make any mistakes.”

With new surroundings and a unique challenge greeting him in Berlin, Abt is grateful to have Oliver Turvey – a driver he rates highly – and Roberto Costa, his engineer from Season 1 at ABT, in his corner.

“I’ll be working with Roberto again and having someone by my side that I know, and have worked with very well is extremely positive,” he said.

“He’s talented and super friendly, with a great attitude. I’m sure he’ll help me adapt to the team, be quick and get some good results.

“Oliver is a driver I have always rated super highly - I think everyone in Formula E does. He’s very quick and he’s also a great guy.

“I’m sure he’s going to push and we will work together as a team, not start fighting each other. We have the goal of being together and pushing the team forward. There are no egos.”

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