Lucas di Grassi’s championship-winning race engineer is set to depart from Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler, as Franco Chiocchetti has given notice to the German squad last week.
Chiocchetti was also responsible for the development of the team’s cars in Season Two and Three.
E-racing365 has learned that members of the ABT management are understood to have spoken with the unsettled Chiocchetti in an effort to understand his resignation.
Chiocchetti, however, is believed to have remained steadfast in his decision.
Team principal Allan McNish confirmed the surprise move.
“Franco is going to be leaving ABT. It is not immediate, there will be a flow-through period,” McNish told e-racing365.
“It was a surprise and disappointment [he resigned] as he has been such a mainstay at ABT through different programs. His work in the build-up to where the we are now with the program has been valuable and significant. I wish him all the very best for the future.
“We have a lot of strength in depth at Audi Sport so in terms of engineering it should be quite seamless for us after he leaves the operation.”
It remains unclear why the South African, who is widely acknowledged as a driving force in di Grassi’s title, has resigned, although it’s understood Chiocchetti is still likely to be part of the team for the first few races of the 2017/18 season as he works out his notice.
Chiocchetti has worked with ABT since 2001, first in its DTM program with the likes of Tom Kristensen, Oliver Jarvis, Timo Scheider and Edoardo Mortara, before moving to its Formula E effort in 2014.
He became di Grassi’s engineer at the beginning of Season Two and has helped orchestrate five of the Brazilian’s six race wins over the last three years.
Chiocchetti is likely to be viewed as an attractive proposition for his experience and expertise and could be a likely acquisition for another team, as the championship heads in to the technically challenging and important Season Five.