Audi is the first German car manufacturer to be actively involved in Formula E – initially as a partner of ABT Sportsline and Schaeffler, and now as a fully-fledged factory team with its first own all-electric racing car. Consequently, the brand with the four rings clearly demonstrates its systematic transformation from a classic carmaker to a forward-thinking mobility provider in motorsport as well. In doing so, Audi follows its successful, near-40-year tradition of learning in the motorsport test lab for application to production.
Since the 2015/2016 season the teams and manufacturers were allowed to design the powertrains of their first-generation Formula E cars themselves. Together with its technology partner Schaeffler, Audi, for the 2017/2018 Formula E season, developed the Audi e-tron FE04 with an all-new drive unit consisting of the motor/generator, gearbox, parts of the suspension, plus the related software.
The motor-generator unit is the centrepiece of this rear-wheel-drive vehicle. Consistently enhancing the unit’s effectiveness and efficiency was the main task to be tackled by Audi and Schaeffler. The key performance data of the Audi e-tron FE04: 200 kW (272 hp) of maximum power output permitted by the regulations, 225 km/h top speed, acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h in approximately 3.5 seconds.
The Audi e-tron FE04 Formula E racing car, on scoring four victories last season, plus the teams’ title win, successfully heralded Audi’s product offensive in the field of electric mobility beginning in 2018.
Victories, successes and records of Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler in the first era of Formula E
Audi factory driver Lucas di Grassi was the winner of the first ever Formula E race held in Beijing on 13 September 2014. In the inaugural season of the world’s first fully electric racing series, Audi provided the seasoned driver from Brazil to Team ABT Sportsline. The second driver was up-and-coming German talent Daniel Abt. At that time, all Formula E racing teams had to field cars with completely identical technical specifications, the Spark Renault SRT 01E.
One drivers’ title was won by Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler in the first Formula E generation: in 2016/2017 Lucas di Grassi became champion with a brilliant fightback during the second half of the season even though the Brazilian hadn’t set the fastest lap in any of the races exclusively held in the hearts of world cities. The happy ending of this permanent progress: in 2014/2015 di Grassi was third, in 2015/2016 the runner-up in the Formula E Championship. And in 2017/2018 di Grassi finished runner-up once again.
One teams’ title has been clinched by Audi to date: in 2017/2018, on the occasion of its first factory-backed commitment in Formula E. At the end of that season which, as usual in Formula E, kicked off in winter and ended in summer, Lucas di Grassi and his teammate, Daniel Abt, were near-unbeatable. Eight times in succession, at least one of them mounted the podium of the top three contenders. In the drivers’ classification, they occupied positions two (di Grassi) and five (Abt).
Audi achieved a three-fold success on one occasion: in the 2018 Berlin E-Prix with victory, pole position and the fastest race lap by Daniel Abt.
Three fastest race laps in succession were posted in 2017/2018 by Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler in Rome (Abt), Paris (di Grassi) and Berlin (Abt).
Four podiums on the same track: Lucas di Grassi achieved them in Berlin in 2015/2016 (3rd), in 2016/2017 (2nd and 3rd) and in 2017/2018 (2nd).
Five pole positions went to Audi in the first four Formula E years: three clinched by Lucas di Grassi (Buenos Aires, Berlin, Montreal 2016/2017), two by Daniel Abt (Long Beach 2014/2015/pictured, Berlin 2017/2018).
Six fastest race laps in a single season were set in 2017/2018 by Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler in: Beijing, Mexico City, Paris (di Grassi) and Rome, Berlin, New York City (Abt/pictured).
Seven podiums in succession – that’s a record – were achieved by Lucas di Grassi in 2017/2018: in Punta del Este, Rome, Paris, Berlin, Zurich and New York City (2x).
Ten victories in total were scored by Audi in the first Formula E era: in 2014/2015 in Beijing, in 2015/2016 in Putrajaya, Long Beach and Paris, in 2016/2017 in Mexico City and Montreal, and in 2017/2018 in Mexico City, Berlin, Zurich and New York City.
An advantage of 13.884 seconds over the runner-up marks another Formula E record for Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler. It was achieved by Lucas di Grassi on winning in Putrajaya during the second Formula E season of 2015/2016.
21 of all 45 Formula E races – accounting for 46.7 per cent – were led by Lucas di Grassi and Daniel Abt.
33 podiums were clinched by both of them combined in Formula E from September 2014 to July 2018. Lucas di Grassi finished in the top three on 27 occasions (record) and Daniel Abt on eight.
45 times, which means in all Formula E races held to date, Abt and di Grassi were teammates. No other driver duo in the series has achieved this.
47 points in the 2017/2018 Berlin E-Prix meant a maximum score for Audi: 25 plus 18 points were awarded for first and second place, three for pole position and one more for the fastest race lap.
390 of the total of 1,751 laps of the first four Formula E seasons were led by a car from Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler. This equates to 22.3 per cent.
611 points for Lucas di Grassi from 2014/2015 to 2017/2018: no driver has scored more championship points in total in Formula E.
3,288 of the 3,502 race laps that can possibly be covered with two cars in total were completed by Daniel Abt and Lucas di Grassi in the first four Formula E seasons, equating to a rate of 93.9 per cent. They jointly completed 7,713 race kilometres in the process. No driver pairing was more reliable.
A future brimming with
Formula E will become even more attractive in the coming years both in terms of technology and racing. Beginning in the 2018/2019 season, when starting to its second era in December, the series will field an all-new vehicle generation. The key innovations of these so-called Gen-2 cars: a complete visual makeover, plus the safety of the drivers – especially due to the ‘Halo’ cockpit protection that is also being used in Formula One – will be enhanced even further. Particularly in terms of powertrain technology, this single-seater racing car sets new standards.