McNish: Audi must avoid distraction of German rivalries
In his first year in charge of the team, McNish guided Audi team to last season’s Formula E teams’ title despite reliability woes resulting in a haul of just 11 points from the opening four rounds.
Ahead of the first race of its title defence in Riyadh this December, McNish acknowledged the importance of securing bragging rights over BMW and HWA, with fellow German giants Porsche and Mercedes also lined up to enter the championship in a year’s time.
“You always want to beat all the competition, that’s clear, but when we’re flying back from Riyadh or Santiago or Mexico, we’re going to be on the same plane back into Munich as BMW, and we want to be the one packing away the big trophy into the hand luggage,” McNish told eRacing Magazine.
“There is an element that you always want to beat your closest neighbours, and that creates that little bit of intensity, always has done, whether it be in sportscar racing or the DTM.
“You see the same faces, you know the characters and you know it’s going to be a hard battle and good competition, and that’s what we always want.”
Now a year into the job, McNish has been able to draw upon last season’s experience and has warned his team not to allow long-standing rivalries to draw its attention away from the threat of the less traditional names on the grid.
“I don’t think it’s just about [the German manufacturers], I think there are new names and competitors to the marketplace that weren’t here four or five years ago. Mahindra and NIO being two.
“They are from a completely different environment so even though there’s a lot of interest from the German perspective, I don’t think we can only focus on that. I think we do have to be aware that there’s a much bigger ecosystem here than what [Audi has been used to] in the past.”
The Chinese-owned Techeetah team had looked on course to secure an unlikely championship triumph last season before McNish’s Audi team pipped them to the title at the last race in New York.
Despite the increased manufacturer presence, McNish believes that ‘giant-killing’ performances from the championship’s smaller teams could still be possible.
“I think Techeetah showed what was possible by focusing on the basics of racing,” said McNish.
“Obviously, the general level gets stronger every year as it does in any competition, and that doesn’t matter what championship you’re in, and certainly [in Formula E] it’s got much stronger since I went to the first race in Hong Kong in season three.
“You look at the teams, the way they set things out, the drivers that are coming in, and the drivers that want to come in. Then it just gets much, much tougher.
“Whoever does it, it will definitely have to be a very good job to win in season five. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a manufacturer, but if it is [an independent team] they have to have a good car. You can’t do it with anything but a good car.”
Image credit: Formula E
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