Formula E Preview: Audi Sport Abt

Abt Formula E

Ahead of the inaugural Formula E race weekend we're taking a look at the series' runners and riders. Next up, Audi Sport Abt, who will field Lucas di Grassi and Daniel Abt.

For proof of how seriously Formula E is being taken, you only need to look at the full name of German squad Audi Sport Abt; a multinational car manufacturer of that magnitude does not lend its support to an inferior product.

The Abt Sportsline team are highly experienced, too. Among other projects, they currently run four Audis in the DTM, so it's fair to say they know what they're doing. Another Audi DTM crossover is sponsor Schaeffler, which explains the Abt machine's lurid red, green and yellow livery.

On the driver front the team combine Audi-contracted Lucas di Grassi with GP2 youngster Daniel Abt.

Di Grassi has been a test driver for the Formula E project since its early days and knows series CEO Alejandro Agag, having driven for the Spaniard's GP2 outfit. A conflict of interest? No one seems to think so.

The Brazilian is also a member of Audi's LMP1 team, so he's a natural fit here. And he thoroughly deserves his place. Di Grassi is a smart driver, perhaps not the outright fastest but highly adept at car preservation and development. He's been on the pace throughout testing, and was the only man to beat Sebastian Buemi to the top of the timesheets. That marks him out as a definite title contender.

It would be fair to suggest that 21-year-old Abt, the youngest driver in the series, partly owes his place at the team to family ties (his father runs Abt Sportsline).

His junior racing career is mixed. He was brilliant during the 2012 GP3 title run-in, missing out on the crown by just two points after a stunning late-season surge.

Daniel Abt

However he then stepped up to GP2 with ART Grand Prix and had a terribly disappointing campaign, given his and the team's pedigree. He's fared better this year at Hilmer, but still finds himself only 13th in the standings. Not the sort of form you'd expect to land a plum Formula E seat.

That's shown in testing, with Abt regularly several tenths slower than front-running team-mate Di Grassi. Expect that trend to continue into the season.