On the eve of his 25th birthday, Daniel Abt shared his thoughts with Peter Leung on his off-season preparation for Season 4 and having the newly crowned World Champion as a team-mate.
While most teams use simulations as a tool for track knowledge and strategy outlays, Abt is a firm believer that it is as just effective at creating muscle memory given the unique demands of Formula E.
“The main preparation is the simulator” says Abt. “We spend a lot of time setting up the simulator because we built a new one at Audi Sport. There was quite a lot of development work. It’s also about making sure the system software works. It’s good tool for me as a driver to get in shape, and then a little bit of sport of course also, to be feeling good. There is not much more you can do!”
“It’s very important! If it’s a new track, it’s the only tool for you to learn it. Even if it’s not it’s about getting back in the rhythm, doing the energy management, mapping and software. It’s a lot of things to do that you can prepare yourself for so you know what to do once you are here”.
As one of the top teams in Formula E, Audi is well aware that there is more to gain for other teams, but Abt feels that every small advantage is there to be exploited if the team wishes to stay at the pointy-end of the grid.
“It’s a lot about the software and the motor” Abt explains. “Of course we give input, but the guys in the background, they have really worked hard. It’s not that you make incredible steps and drive a second faster – it’s really about finding details and you have to point those details out to just gain a little bit of that advantage we hopefully have”.
While he’s already been an ABT Schaeffler driver for three seasons now, Abt admits that making the step to a fully-fledged Audi Sport Factory Driver will give him the right mix of pressure and incentive to raise his game.
“It’s an honour for me!” explains Abt. “It’s something I have been working for all my life. It was quite clear that I would never be a Renault driver or something! It’s a good thing – the next step in my career. A lot of trust but also a lot of pressure”.
“On Sunday I turn 25 so I want 25 points for my 25th birthday! That’s the goal. I’m going to push hard for that. It’s not easy but I am feeling quite good”.
Having Lucas di Grassi as a teammate is a benchmark that can make or break a driver, but Daniel believes that there is more than meets the eye when it comes to comparing the two Audi stable-mates.
“Lucas is a very experienced driver” says Abt. “When Formula E started I was still very inexperienced with a lot of stuff that he already knew. It’s definitely good to have a driver like him. We share a lot – we try to bring the team forward. We haven’t shared so far is the luck!”
Hans Juergen Abt’s [Daniel’s father] role in the team has taken a step back this season, with the Audi Sport Formula E Team opting for Allan McNish as team principal. Abt is candid about his relationship in the team during this transition and accepts that the pros and cons were in a constant state of flux until recently.
“He [Hans] is still the owner of the team, but he is not actively involved at the race stage” says Daniel. “He is not here because he has to attend a prize giving for the company in Germany (ABT Sportsline GmbH). If he would be here he would be more like a spectator – just be enjoying it. There is a lot of stuff we do apart from Formula E so he is busy enough! That’s for sure. He has good people that he trusts in [the team]”.
“People always look at it a bit different if you are a parent and son, that’s for sure! There are some other drivers that know that feeling. But what else can you do? It wouldn’t make sense to be competition to my father”.
“It’s not necessarily extra pressure. What it does – and that’s a bit the danger – is that the people you work with in the team – that they are scared to tell you honest opinions. They are scared that they could lose their job because I could tell my dad. It’s hard because you want to be treated equally, but you are not”.
“I actually think that now that Audi Sport takes over, it helps this atmosphere for me to be treated normally and not be seen like a son. It’s not what you want [as a driver]”.
Images: Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler
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