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From pioneer to double champion – the Team Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler had a crucial influence on the first four seasons of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship electric vehicle racing series.
ABT Sportsline and Schaeffler were trendsetters as the only German team in the debut season of Formula E in 2014/15. The season started out with a bang: Lucas di Grassi won the debut race in Beijing. After five more podiums, he came in third in the final standings, with Daniel Abt in eleventh place.
For its second season, the series relaxed the technical regulations with regard to development. The teams were now allowed to develop the drivetrain of the race car themselves. Thanks to three wins in season 2015/16, Lucas di Grassi finished second overall with only two points behind the champion, while Daniel Abt achieved his best result to date with a second place in Berlin.
The third year of Formula E featured a dramatic fight at the top between title defender Sébastien Buemi and Lucas di Grassi. After the first half of the season, Buemi seemed set to become champion. Then ABT driver di Grassi started to catch up and clinched the title in the final race.
In 2017/18, Audi was the first German car manufacturer to enter Formula E. The brand with the four rings took over the slot of ABT Sportsline. The Bavarian racing team remained on board with the e-tron race cars, though. After a rocky start into the season, Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler achieved top form: At least one driver from the team was on the podium in eight consecutive races. In the end, the team scored the team championship and Lucas di Grassi took second place overall. Team member Daniel Abt came in fifth in the final standings. In Mexico, the Bavarian driver was the first German to win a Formula E race, and repeated this feat in Berlin. There, the racing team was the first to ever score a one-two, the pole position, the fastest lap and the maximum possible number of points in one race weekend.
"We are proud to have written a part of motorsport history as one of the founding members," says Hans-Jürgen Abt. In addition to the drivers' and team championship, the impressive record of ABT before the fifth Formula E season lists ten race wins and 35 podiums – best in series! Lucas di Grassi and Daniel Abt lead 21 of the 45 races held to date.
It is the biggest change in Formula E to date: For the first time since inception of the series in 2014, only one race car is used per driver for the new season of 2018/19. The mandatory vehicle change during the race was omitted because the battery capacity is now sufficient for the entire race distance of 45 minutes. Evidence of how motorsport – and in particular Formula E – drives innovation and technology.
Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler has meticulously prepared for the new technical and strategic challenges with the Audi e-tron FE05. This applies in particular to the heart of the Audi e-tron FE05 – the drivetrain. It consists of the motor, inverter, transmission, parts of the rear suspension and the corresponding software. While the rest of the car is the same for all teams, the drive unit is where the manufacturers can prove their technical competence. In the fourth season of the electric racing series, which ended with Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler winning the title in New York in mid-July, the Audi e-tron FE04 was very often the most efficient car. The successor is the evolution of this successful model.
The motor generator unit with the designation Audi Schaeffler MGU03 was developed jointly by Audi and its technology partner Schaeffler. The engineers mainly focused on further increasing the efficiency of the package. "We have retained the basic concept with one gear, while further developing all elements in detail and manufacturing them new," says Tristan Summerscale, Project Manager Formula E at Audi. 95 percent of all parts of the drivetrain are new, whereby the engineers managed to save ten percent weight.
Summerscale and his team started the development of the Audi e-tron FE05 as early as the middle of 2017 – before the start of the fourth season. At the end of July 2018, the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) homologated the vehicle. Changes are now no longer permitted. The developers are only allowed to further improve the software during the course of the season.
In the fifth season of Formula E, the motor power must not exceed 250 kW (340 HP) during qualifying. In the races, this is limited to 200 kW (272 HP). The so-called activation zones are a new feature: When a driver goes through this zone of the track, the power of their car briefly increases to 225 kW (306 HP). Formula E fans can once again support their favorite driver through online voting this season: The "FanBoost" temporarily increases the power to up to 250 kW (340 HP).
All Formula E teams get their electricity from identical McLaren batteries, each weighing 374 kg. The lithium-ion battery is positioned between the driver's seat and the drivetrain, has a capacity of 52 kWh and is fully charged in 45 minutes. The brake-by-wire system is a completely new development for the fifth season. Brake actuation and transfer to the rear axle are decoupled and electronically controlled. This ensures optimum brake power distribution at all times and makes regeneration even more efficient.
As in Formula 1, drivers sit in a carbon fiber monocoque, developed in compliance with the FIA safety standards. CFRP crash structures on the front and rear and on the sides ensure maximum safety. The halo system above the cockpit – as in Formula 1 – additionally protects the driver's head. The minimum weight of a Formula E race car is 900 kg (including the driver). The electric race car accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in 3.1 seconds. The maximum speed is around 240 km/h.
Particularly striking: the new generation of the Audi e-tron FE05 needs no rear wing – one-of-a-kind in motorsport. Instead, downforce is provided by the large diffuser at the rear of the race car. "Batmobile", "Star Wars", "Spaceship" were the comments from fans and media on the futuristic optics after the first test drives. "When driving between the other cars on the track, I feel like I am in a science fiction movie," says Daniel Abt. "Compared to the predecessor, the new model has a much more aggressive design."
ABT Sportsline looks after the race cars of Daniel Abt and Lucas di Grassi and was also involved in the extensive development work before the season. Numerous test miles were driven on the Circuit Mallorca and during the official FIA Formula E test in Valencia to ensure a good start into the new season with the brand new FE05.
After four years, Lucas di Grassi is the most successful driver in the history of Formula E: No other driver had more podiums (27) or points (611). But the Brazilian driver is certainly not resting on his laurels. Di Grassi is a founding member of Formula E: Long before he sat in the electric race car for the first time, he was working with CEO Alejandro Agag behind the scenes to structure the fundamentals and procedures of the series and provided important input based on his experience. On the track, the 2016/17 champion is one of the protagonists and favorites for wins and the title on every race weekend. Off track, Lucas di Grassi is very popular in the paddock – with the media, because he is an authentic interview partner who does not mince his words, and with his fans, because he is virtually always ready to give autographs or pose for pictures. And last but not least, he is highly respected by the engineers in his team, because he not only delivers strong results in the races, but also drives the development of the car with his experience and precise statements. Lucas di Grassi lives in Monaco with his wife Bianca. The successful driver became a father in July 2018 and has since been kept very busy by his son Leonardo.
1997-2001 Kart, Panamerican Kart Champion (2000)
2002 2nd place Brazilian Formula Renault Championship
2003 2nd place South American Formula 3 Championship
2004 British Formula 3 Championship, 3rd place Macau GP, Formula 3 Masters
2005 1st place Macau GP, 3rd place Formula 3 Euro Series, 3rd place Formula 3 Masters, Formula 1 test
2006 GP2 Series, Formula 1 test
2007 2nd place GP2 Series, Formula 1 test driver
2008 3rd place GP2 Series, Formula 1 reserve driver
2009 3rd place GP2 Series, Formula 1 reserve driver
2010 Formula 1
2011 Formula 1 tire test driver, ILMC tests
2012 Formula 1 tire test driver, 24 Hours Nürburgring, 3rd place WEC São Paulo (Audi R18 ultra)
2013 3rd place 24 Hours Le Mans (Audi R18 e-tron quattro)
2014 2nd place 24 Hours Le Mans (Audi R18 e-tron quattro), 4th place FIA World Endurance Championship WEC (Audi R18 e-tron quattro)
2015 3rd place FIA Formula E, 1 win, 4th place FIA World Endurance Championship WEC (Audi R18 e-tron quattro)
2016 2nd place FIA Formula E, 3 wins, FIA World Endurance Championship WEC (Audi R18) 1 win, 3rd place 24 Hours Le Mans (Audi R18)
2017 1st place FIA Formula E, 2 wins
2018 2nd place ABB Formula E (Audi e-tron FE04), 2 wins
Unique in Formula E: Fans can add extra power to their favorite drivers online. The three drivers with the most votes will receive 30 HP more for five seconds during the race - which can be a decisive advantage in overtaking maneuvers on tight city circuits.
Please vote for your favorite driver here: http://fanboost.fiaformulae.com