The final straight
Just two races remain for Audi in Formula E.
Mixed blessings for Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler in London, but with just two races remaining for the team in Formula E, the focus now is on going out in style.
26 July, 2021
Rast carved through the field on Saturday, starting from 13th to ultimately finish fifth and in the points
Just two more races remain for Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler in Formula E as the 2020/21 season draws to a close and Audi’s factory involvement in the series winds up. The penultimate weekend in London produced mixed results with points for both René Rast and Lucas di Grassi on Saturday, finishing fifth and sixth respectively. The unique London circuit at the ExCeL Arena was difficult for overtaking as expected, its inside/outside layout which was a first for Formula E, also adding an extra challenge for Saturday practice as rain in the British capital made conditions slippery in the exposed sections while remaining dry in the sections undercover.
A tricky qualifying session saw René Rast start well back on the grid in 13th, but his drive to finish in sixth showed the German’s determination and the speed of the Audi e-tron FE07.
Lucas di Grassi started higher on the grid from seventh, but after being caught in traffic on several occasions, was only able to improve on that starting position by one at the end of the race.
Sunday was a different story, with di Grassi fastest in free practice and looking a real threat for the race proper. But in a dramatic turn of events, the Brazilian tried a strategic move during the race that saw him cross the finish line first, only to receive a drive-through penalty and then later to be excluded.
The move followed an on-track incident that saw the safety car deployed. While the field stayed behind the safety car on the start-finish straight, di Grassi took advantage of the rules and drove through the pit lane, made a short stop in front of his garage, and then returned to the track in the lead.
Unfortunately for the former world champion though, he failed to come to a complete stop in front of his garage and the advantage came to naught.
“That was a good strategy by the team, which found an opportunity in the regulations and took advantage of it,” said di Grassi afterwards. “Given the close standings in the title fight, we didn’t want to leave any opportunity unused.”
The race was no more kind to team-mate René Rast, who was caught up in an accident not of his making and was forced to retire, meaning the Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler team went away from Sunday’s race empty handed.
“Let’s be honest – It was a disappointing day for us today,” said Team Principal Allan McNish. “We tried a strategy move with Lucas that was allowed by the regulations and that other teams have done in the past, but unfortunately it didn’t work out one hundred percent and we accept the FIA stewards decisions.”
The Formula E Championship nows moves to Germany and Berlin next month for a final doubleheader and the wrap-up to the season. For Audi, this will be the last outing in the formula as the focus at Audi moves to the brand’s assault the gruelling Dakar Rally using the RS Q e-tron which uses an electric drivetrain.
“Although everything is still possible [in the championship], we’re not primarily looking at the standings,” says McNish of the coming Berlin finale. “We want to say goodbye to our fans in Berlin with two strong races and as many trophies as possible.”
The final race weekend of the current season will take place in Berlin in a fortnight on the 14th and 15th of August.
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