One man, two jobs
One race car is not enough, or at least not for Robin Frijns. The Audi factory driver from the Netherlands is taking part in two international racing series this season: the DTM and Formula E. What are the differences between driving the Audi RS 5 DTM and the Audi e-tron FE05? What makes the work with Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline and Audi customer team Envision Virgin Racing so enjoyable? Robin Frijns shares more here.
MY TWO CARS
MY TWO COCKPITS
Robin Frijns: “In the DTM car, you’re sitting quite far back and on the left-hand side whereas, you’re sitting in the middle of the car in Formula E. In the DTM car, which is a touring car, there are a lot of systems within reach around you inside the car.
In comparison, the Formula E cockpit is very small and tight. Most of the buttons, levers and indicators are located on the steering wheel. Getting into this car is a little bit more difficult. Firstly, I have to jump over the Halo, an added safety feature above the cockpit since 2019 onwards, and then into the cockpit. By the way: I always get into my open Audi e-tron FE05 from the left-hand side and get out of it on the right-hand side.
Apparently, I can’t stick to this habit in the Audi RS 5 DTM. I have to enter this closed touring car like a road car from the left-hand side, but without the door having been attached yet. The door only gets attached shortly before I am about to drive out of my garage.”
MY TWO WAYS OF DRIVING
MY TWO KINDS OF RACING
Robin Frijns: “The start of a Formula E race is fairly easy, because you cannot really stall the engine, given that it’s all electronic with the electric motor and the single-speed transmission. In the DTM, it’s now very difficult to pull away from the start. Until the end of last season, we had a handbrake to pre-load the car for the start. Now we don’t have this anymore and some drivers do have slow getaways, because of the increased difficulty. You have to get it just right.
Another tricky point regarding the start in a DTM car is the turbocharged engine, which is being used from this year onwards. If your revs are too low, the engine’s boost pressure will not be high enough. And if they are too high, you will have a lot of wheel spin on the rear axle. It’s crucial and completely different. It Is definitely much more difficult to have a good start in the DTM.
The racing itself is also very different in the DTM and Formula E. In the DTM, the tyres are a big factor nowadays. Until the end of last year, we had more aerodynamic downforce being produced by the car, no turbocharged engines and about 100 horsepower less. So now we slide more and we have to put the increased horsepower onto the ground through the exact same design of tyres that we used last season. So, the tyres are more stressed and we have much higher tyre degradation during the races this year. Taking care of your tyres is definitely a big key to success in the new era of the DTM.
In Formula E, tyre degradation is not really a big issue. The biggest thing there is energy management. That means getting the maximum out of your electric power unit at any specific time during the race.
The battling with competitors on track is also very different. This is easier in the DTM. There you can fight side by side with the driver of another car for several corners, sometimes even for half a lap. I really enjoy that. Most of the time in Formula E, you are preparing your attack to overtake for just one specific corner.
Changing from my Audi RS 5 DTM to my Audi e-tron FE05 and vice versa is not a big thing for me. I get used to each of these cars quite quickly as soon as I get behind the wheel. Needing to switch between two types of cars I had already learned to do when I was racing in the DTM for Audi and also LMP2 during the same season.”
MY TWO RACING WORLDS
MY ONLY CONCLUSION
Robin Frijns: “Racing and competing in several different motorsport categories has made me a more complete driver in recent years. I grew up with single-seater race cars and also stepped up to being a Formula One test driver. Then I switched to much heavier and completely differently balanced GT cars and now I race in the DTM and in Formula E. Well, I honestly love to drive both of these cars very, very much!”
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