Daniel Abt disqualified from Formula E win

Abt's car found to have 'mismatch', denied 25th birthday win

8.30pm, 3 December 2017

Oh dear, better put a cork in those champagne bottles. Daniel Abt has had his birthday win snatched away, after a disqualification from the second race of the Hong Kong Formula E round.

Following post-racing scrutineering, the FIA’s technical stewards said the barcodes on the MGU and inverter did not match those on the FE04’s ‘Technical Passport’.

Abt’s disqualification promotes Mahindra’s Felix Rosenqvist to the top spot, while Mortara moves up to second, and Jaguar’s Mitch Evans takes the third spot.

“We want the opportunity to be able to clarify all details,” explains Audi FE team boss Allan McNish, “that’s why we’ve announced the intent to appeal.”

5.30pm, 3 December 2017

“It’s quite heart-breaking,” 25-year Daniel Abt told TopGear.com ahead of this weekend’s Formula E race, noting his poor run of luck last season. “All you can do is try and prepare the best. Hopefully it’ll pay off one day.”

Welcome to pay-day, Danny. At the second race of the Hong Kong round of Formula E’s fourth season, Dan ran in second place for much of the race before a mistake by leading man and pace setter Edoardo Mortara – who unfortunately spun out with just three laps to go – allowed him to squeeze past to take the lead. And his first ever win in FE.

It means he takes the full 25 points. On his 25th birthday. And his performance across the weekend means that at the end of the first round, he is leading the championship ahead of race one’s winner, Virgin Racing driver Sam Bird.

“I just tried to do the best I could, make no mistakes. Actually I remember two weeks ago at the Macau race, I said ‘that kind of stuff never happens to me’, when you’re second or third and you suddenly get first place. It happened today.

“It wasn’t easy for Audi to stick with me coming into this season. When your last name is the same as the team [the full factory title is Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler] you always get looked at differently. Some guys don’t think I deserve to be here. This weekend was really time to prove them wrong.

“I don’t think the odds on me [winning] were very good, but Audi gave me the trust and belief that we could achieve good things together,” he added.

The win also marks Allan McNish’s first victory as a race team principal. The former Le Mans winner and WEC driver is now in charge of both reigning champ Lucas Di Grassi (who had a torrid race, eventually finishing 15th), and of course Abt. Before the race, McNish told TG about Daniel’s struggles in the past, and how season four would be pivotal for the young German.

“Daniel will be a much stronger force this year,” he told us. “He deserves not only the podium but a win, and I think it’ll be a breakthrough year for him.

“That’s one of the things I’ll enjoy a lot when he gets his first one,” he said. Time to break out the champers, perhaps: not only is Abt now leading the drivers’ championship, but it’s also Audi’s first ever victory in Formula E after becoming a full factory-backed works team.

“This will be the most exciting Formula E championship ever,” Abt added. It’s certainly off to a good start…