The worst kept secret of the past few weeks has been officially exposed: the German ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport squad will hand over their entry slot to Audi in time for Formula E’s fourth season, starting in December this year.
Audi’s interest in taking over ABT Sportsline’s spot on the Formula E grid has been long confirmed, as the German manufacturer registered the merger with the German Federal Cartel Office in the middle of June. As of July 3rd, the “indirect acquisition of of all parts of and the sole responsibility of ABT Formel E GmbH by Audi AG” has been officially approved by the relevant authorities.
“We’ve been supporting the Formula E commitment with increasing intensity in recent months – on the race days, in the development of the new powertrain and in numerous off-track activities as well,” says Dr. Peter Mertens, Member of the Board of Management, Technical Development, AUDI AG.
“That Audi will be the first German automobile manufacturer to be actively involved in the racing series starting next season is also a clear commitment of our brand to electric mobility, on the race track as of December and next year on the road as well with the new Audi e-tron.”
“We’re proud that as one of the founding members we’ve added a chapter to motorsport’s history books,” says team owner Hans-Jürgen Abt. “Within the space of just a few years, Formula E has seen such a strong development that a team can no longer be competitive without the backing of an automobile manufacturer.”
“That’s why we’re gladly handing over the reins to Audi – a partner we’ve been successfully cooperating with in motorsport and routine business for many decades. There’s no doubt in my mind that we’re going to continue this success story in Formula E as well.”
The handover to Audi has sparked lively discussions about the team’s driver line-up in season 4. During the Berlin ePrix weekend, Hans-Jürgen Abt had confidently reported that both Lucas di Grassi and Daniel Abt are “signed for life”, but with Audi being in control, speculations about other Audi drivers snatching a cockpit with the new Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler team are on a high.
Current Faraday Future Dragon Racing driver Loic Duval, who will apparently leave the team after the Montreal ePrix, is often named in relation to filling Daniel Abt’s shoes due to his involvement with Audi in DTM.