ABT CUPRA Formula E Team stand-in driver Kelvin van der Linde is incredibly excited to make his ABB FIA Formula E World Championship debut this weekend at the Diriyah E-Prix, with the South African having been called-up to replace the injured Robin Frijns.
Van der Linde will likely feature for several rounds following Frijns’ injury, with the Dutchman having undergone surgery on his wrist and hand following a crash at the season-opening race in Mexico City. Full responsibility then, has been put on the South African’s shoulders, with van der Linde actually set to become the first ever Formula E driver from his nation.
The Diriyah E-Prix is an incredibly challenging place to make your debut, with the track being one of the most unforgiving on the calendar. The South African believes he has prepared for the double header “in the best possible way”, having gone over all the data gathered at the season opener. Most importantly, though, he’s looking forward to driving the “very special” Gen3 cars, a privilege he is yet to have.
“I have never driven the new car and have only heard that it is supposed to be very special. I’ve tried to prepare myself in the best possible way: physically, by analysing all the data and, of course, in the simulator. The engineers and Nico (Müller) are giving me great support in this. I want to finish and help the team to push the development of our project further forward.”
“We found some good approaches” in Mexico City – Nico Mueller
On the other side of the ABT Cupra garage, Nico Mueller will be hoping for a better couple of races at the Riyadh Street Circuit than he had at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez, where he crossed the line in fourteenth.
The season opener was a challenge for both the returning Mueller and ABT, with the competition already looking set to be immense. Concerningly, Lucas di Grassi was the only Mahindra-powered driver to feature in the points, with ABT, of course, being a customer side of the Indian manufacturer.
Diriyah presents a fresh opportunity to the Swiss driver, though, to challenge further up the field, with the double header also being a great opportunity to get a “lot more driving time” behind the wheel of the M9Electro. This weekend’s venue is a “very demanding track”, but Mueller is hopeful that the team can use what they learnt in Mexico City to their advantage.
“A very demanding track: fluid, fast, yet narrow and tight. Even though we haven’t scored points in Mexico, the practice sessions and also the race were important for our whole team. We found some good approaches that we want to build on in Diriyah. Two full days of racing mean a lot of driving time and further valuable experience.”