I’m not usually one for predictions but I can foresee Daniel Abt breaking his Formula E duck this season. And I’m in good company.
Allan McNish agrees with me, so even if Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler has even a morsel of the advantage some think they will have in Season Four, Abt may even become a multiple winner.
So why do we think that Abt, very much the number two driver in the team so far and a man who has not won a race since he triumphed in a long forgotten GP3 encounter at Monza in 2012, will emerge as a contender?
It would be disingenuous to state that the predicted competitiveness of the Audi e-tron FE04 will make this prediction “an easy call.”
Abt is much better than his results in Formula E demonstrate.He missed out on podium positions last season because of poor luck and the occasional mistake from his team.
When Abt does win a race, it will be unfair if it’s labelled with the “anyone could win in a car that’s so dominant.” If, indeed the advantage is what some are suggesting, Abt will have contributed to its status handsomely.
His qualifying in previous seasons have been described by some, even within his team, as better than di Grassi’s.
The stats, though, don’t back this up, as eventual champion di Grassi out-qualified him by eight to four.
This included Mexico City, where Abt claimed pole but was then sent to the back of the grid for a tire pressure irregularity. But di Grassi generally had the upper hand.
What’s more pertinent is that Abt failed to score points in at least three races due to circumstances beyond his control. This included a cruel penultimate lap problem while in line for a podium in the first New York race.
Abt’s new team principal McNish is a shrewd judge of character.
The three-time Le Mans winner has worked with drivers from Ayrton Senna and Tom Kristensen to less-celebrated talents such as Andy Pilgrim and Laurent Aiello.
“Daniel came very good in the second half of the year but I felt sorry for him, especially in races like Paris and New York, especially the last lap with safety cars,” McNish said.
“He had technical problems with the battery which was nothing he could do about in New York. But he drove very well and there was a podium going begging there.”
The team player element is something McNish was a master of in endurance racing and a strand of the job which he believes Abt excels in.
“Daniel is an extremely good team player and backed up Lucas very well in the final races in Montreal,” he said.
“What he brings to the team is much more than what is just seen on race weekends. He is a genuine and engaging presence and this is reflected with his relationships within the team.
“His results, on paper, certainly did not reflect his capability and I think he could be a good strong surprise package this year.
“We know that the guys have consistently been at the front, winning races, but I think that he is the driver that will get his first race win on the board in Season Four.”
The predictions may add a slight amount of pressure to Abt’s maturing shoulders but this is small fry compared to his recently secured Audi factory driver status and the internal scrutiny that will bring.
The indications are that the 24 year-old German will deliver and surprise many.
There will be those that will be startled should he produce such results. Short memory syndrome is has always been rife in this business.
So, let us remember that this is the same Daniel Abt who finished a close second to fellow Formula E competitor Mitch Evans back in 2012. Among those he beat that season was another lauded Formula E talent, Antonio Felix da Costa.
“Every season is an important one,” McNish said. “Daniel is a pro and we know that when everything is aligned he has the potential to deliver some great results. We believe in him.”