I think it’s fair to say that those of us based up here on the top floor of MotorMartin Towers are big fans of most forms of motor sport but the Formula E Championship has just not taken hold. But that could be all about to change as the championship appears to be on the brink of greatness with new teams and manufacturers finally joining the party, with Audi being one of the latest to take part.
The new Audi e-tron FE04 has left a strong impression on all at the official pre-season testing of the Formula E electric racing series at Valencia (Spain). Team Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler from Monday to Thursday completed the largest number of test kilometers of all ten teams. The lap times of the first all-electric Audi race car were promising as well.
Audi have shared with MotorMartin that their new factory driver Daniel Abt (Germany) and title defender Lucas di Grassi (Brazil) reeled off an extensive test program with the four race cars of Team Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler in high summer temperatures of up to 30 degrees centigrade in the shade. The program was focused on race simulations and optimization of the energy management of the new motor-generator unit (MGU) which now only has one forward gear.
In spite of the heat, Audi have confirmed that the four Audi e-tron FE04 ran with complete reliability on all three days, so enabling Daniel Abt and Lucas di Grassi to reel off a total of 474 laps on the three-kilometer Circuit Ricardo Tomo near Valencia, which equates to a distance of 1,466 kilometers – equalling the race distance of a whole Formula E season. The two Audi drivers were regularly part of the top group, although the absolute best times are only of limited significance: testing was only permitted with the full qualifying power of 200 kW twice per day and per car. In addition, the track configuration was modified by a second chicane on the start-finish straight during the test.
“Daniel and Lucas felt comfortable in the car right from the beginning and confirmed to me that we’ve done good development work and made a big step forwards with the new powertrain,” Explained Team Principal Allan McNish to MotorMartin recently, whilst assessing the tests. “Even though we’re only going to see where we really stand at the season opener in Hong Kong and still have a lot of work to do until then, we can be very happy with the test in Valencia. The Audi e-tron FE04 is reliable and fast. Now we need to continue to optimize energy management and the software on the test bench and in the simulator.”
“It’s been a positive test,” reigning Formula E Champion Lucas di Grassi agreed. “I believe that our new car is very competitive. Audi, ABT and Schaeffler have done a good job. We made optimal use of the three test days in order to put ourselves in a good position for the season opener in Hong Kong. The top times were very close together. I’m expecting a thrilling season.”
“The test at Valencia went smoothly,” said Daniel Abt. “There was a lot to learn with the new software and other things. We made good progress on these three days, especially on the last day. The car is running superbly and is fast. I can hardly wait to tackle my first two races as an Audi factory driver in Hong Kong.”
From now on until the season opens in Hong Kong on December 2 and 3 testing is prohibited in Formula E. The four Audi e-tron FE04 cars will be completely dismantled and reassembled once more at the team’s base in Kempten. In mid-November, they will be flown from England to Hong Kong.
Test results at Valencia, October 2 – 5, 2017
Track version 1 (3.090 km, one chicane, Monday)
Lucas di Grassi (Audi e-tron FE04 #1), 1m 18.579s, 71 laps
Daniel Abt (Audi e-tron FE04 #66), 1m 18.697s, 85 laps
Track version 2 (3.094 km, two chicanes, Tuesday and Thursday)
Daniel Abt (Audi e-tron FE04 #66), 1m 21.946s, 160 laps
Lucas di Grassi (Audi e-tron FE04 #1), 1m 22.215s, 158 laps
Where will you go?