In the run up to the return of Formula E, Last-Lap is looking at every team and analysing their lineup, their livery and their chances in 2021.
Read the other teams previews here:
Audi are one of the Formula E heavyweights. Since day one they’ve been on top.
Lucas Di Grassi won race one for the Abt team (albeit picking up the pieces from a mega final corner crash between Nick Heidfeld and Nico Prost) and the team never finished below third in the teams championship with Di Grassi similarly succesful in the drivers.
That was until Season 6.
The 2019/20 season was Audi’s least successful ever in Formula E.
With 114 points they could only manage a lowly sixth in the standings. They were close to BMW and their customer team Virgin ahead but still couldn’t achieve the highs of previous seasons.
It was their first year without a win and they only scored three podiums. Two for Di Grassi and one for newcomer René Rast.
The most memorable moment of Audi’s season was the Daniel Abt ringer controversy during the Race at Home esports challenge where Abt brought in a professional sim racer to race in place as him to earn him a stronger result in one of the online races.
Audi’s response to this was swift and sincere, sacking him from the race team and calling up DTM champion Rast to the squad. Audi preached integrity citing Abt’s imposter situation as a direct contradiction.
It was certainly the most dour trough of the lockdown esports boom. You can read more about that here: Sadly Logical – The Daniel Abt Affair.
Rast’s arrival and Abt’s exit seemed on the cards prior to Abt’s actions and the cynical believed it was an easy excuse to ditch him. Either way Rast did perform with points on debut and a podium further down the line.
He accustomed to the hardcore, balls on the bar racing required in Formula E taking on some of the fiercest in close combat for instance barging past the no nonsense Andre Lotterer to take his third place in Berlin V.
Heading into Season 7 is bittersweet for Audi. It is their final FE season after they confirmed their exit in pre season testing from the series.
It is an important opportunity to end on a high after their worst ever season, improvement is going to be wanted more than ever to end their electric racing career with pride just like they started it.
Season 3 champion Lucas Di Grassi is entering his seventh season with the same team and is still one of the top drivers in FE. Season 6 was his first without a win. Over his career he has 10 wins and 32 podiums making him one of the most successful drivers statistically in FE history.
He is one of the most tenacious and feisty taking some very impressive race wins and having his hand in some of the more memorably moments. The final corner victory in Mexico 2019 and the turn one crash in the season finale with Sebastien Buemi both come to mind.
“I have experienced everything in these six years: great successes, defeats, insane emotions. And the best is yet to come, because the start-up from back then is now turning into a World Championship. Together with Audi and René, I will give everything in 2021 to have a say in the fight for the world championship title.”
The most interesting step for Di Grassi is coming later on in 2021. Will he remain in Formula E? He is hot property as a free agent on the driver market but he does have other prospects. He is the CEO of Roborace, the self driving car championship that has been developing for the past five years as well as of the more recent eScooter championship.
Di Grassi will definitely put up the fight in Audi’s final year but the most interesting storyline for him in 2021 is yet to come.
René Rast came into Formula E as one of the many well respected and exciting racers from other categories who bolster the credentials of the FE grid one by one.
As a DTM superstar, Rast’s skill is undeniable and he really started to gel with the series at the end of the Berlin stint in August. Now he enters his first full season in Formula E and could be a dark horse.
In the DTM, Rast was unrelenting. In his four full seasons he won three championships and came second to Gary Paffett by only four points.
He’s took his understated yet predatory style into Formula E extremely well and with nothing to lose for Audi this year it could yield much more than the one podium to his name currently.
Rast said: “The races in Berlin have definitely whetted my appetite for more, so I’m now looking forward to my first full season in Formula E. Starting in this world championship for Audi is the next exciting chapter in my career and I am really looking forward to it.”
It’s the same.
There is no difference. That’s what the same means to be honest. I didn’t need to say it twice.
It is a nice design though, the development of the whole colour scheme through the Gen1 days to now is bold and pretty and ties in well with the e-tron range Audi are pushing to the forefront.
How will Season 7 go?
2021 has the potential to determine the perception of Audi’s entire electric racing legacy. The old adage, you are only as good as your last race, will haunt them if it is woeful. Which is unlikely.
If it is middling like Season 6 then Audi can slip out easily and be remembered as a championship winning outfit who drifted off.
If they fight for wins they go out as a legendary team.
Realistically, Season 6 should be the blip for Audi and Season 7, a return to front running championship contending form is not out of the question for Audi.
Audi will obviously want to leave as an early Formula E legend and they feasibly can do it. Rast and Di Grassi both understand the bolshy nature that is needed in ‘contact’ Formula E. Both drivers are used to leading and winning races. There are no issues there.
The issue isn’t Audi, it’s the steamroller that is DS Techeetah. They can become relentless mid season. They did it with Vergne and Da Costa.
Perfection is required if Audi want to win. No mistakes whatsoever.
Audi are incredibly proud of their new incredibly light, in house powertrain that they have redeveloped for Season 7.
They have an opportunity to get a march on rivals with powertrain updates coming mid season for DS Techeetah among others so Audi must hit the ground running in Diriyah. They have Rast in Group 3 for that event. An early strong result for Rast and Audi could be on the cards.
Audi must never be counted out and with their renewed lineup as well as last chance saloon mentality they could be more ferocious than ever.