In spite of his age of just 24 years, Daniel Abt has gathered experience in nearly all single-seater racing categories below Formula 1. In Formula E, he has been on the grid from the outset and has contested every single race held to date. For the fans, the German is one of the crowd-pleasers in the paddock.
An autograph here, a selfie there and always time for a brief chat with the fans – Daniel Abt lives and loves Formula E. Since the racing series’ debut in September 2014, the German has been forming a team with Lucas di Grassi and due to his approachable nature is one of the most popular drivers in the paddock. “I like the special spirit in Formula E – not only among the teams but also among us race drivers and the fans around the world. That’s unique.”
Daniel Abt knows what he is talking about. Although, having been born in 1992, he is among the youngest campaigners in the Formula E field, but his biography already reflects an equally long and successful career. After several years in kart racing, Abt, in 2009, clinches the title in the ADAC Formel Masters in just his second “real” motorsport season and finishes the German ATS Formula 3 Cup as the runner-up the following year.
This is followed by the Formula 3 Euro Series and, in 2012, the GP3 Series held as part of the Formula 1 supporting program. Here Abt battles for the title up until the last weekend and ultimately becomes vice-champion. Subsequently, Abt competes in individual races of the high-horsepower Formula Renault 3.5 and afterwards races two seasons in GP2, a series directly below Formula 1. A class victory clinched at Le Mans in 2015 with the ceremony on the famous podium in front of 200,000 fans has been the highlight to date in his career aside from single-seater racing. In GT racing as well, Abt gathers initial experiences in the ADAC GT Masters with Bentley.
In Formula E, Daniel Abt has felt at home from the first minute, although he admits: “When I heard about the idea for the first time I was a bit skeptical – like, I’m sure, many others. But for me, racing in the middle of cities, the fierce competition and the work in this team is great fun. Formula E for me came at exactly the right time in my career.”
Abt is not the only one whose skepticism has been transformed into enthusiasm: “Many fellow drivers who used to smile at the series would now love to race in Formula E.”
On the race track, Daniel Abt clearly makes his mark in the first three seasons. Four times he celebrates on podium, is on pole position once and posts two fastest race laps. In the third season, he is just narrowly defeated by teammate and Formula E Champion Lucas di Grassi in their qualifying duel, the “score” being 5–7. Daniel Abt can quickly answer the question about his personal highlight in Formula E: second place on home soil in Berlin in the second season when he mounts the podium in front of di Grassi.
Fall of 2017 marks the beginning of a new chapter in Daniel Abt’s career: For the first time, he is officially an Audi factory driver. His aims, accordingly, are ambitious. “I hope that I’ve worked off my misfortune in racing by now and am wishing for a smooth season without any technical incidents. I’m sure that in that case the results will come too. When you’re driving in the team of the champion, podium places, victories and the title race have to be the benchmark.”
When he’s not sitting in the cockpit or discussing the next steps with his mechanics and engineers Daniel Abt can often be seen in the paddock with a camera in his hands. Shooting footage for his YouTube channel has become more than a hobby by now. Half a million views of a video are no longer uncommon. Abt not only takes the fans behind the scenes of Formula E but also presents the innovations of the ABT Sportsline family business.
Even though Formula E takes him around the world and he enjoys the cultures of foreign countries Daniel Abt always looks forward to returning to his native Allgäu. There, in Kempten, the big fan of the United States lives together with Nadine, his girlfriend of many years. Aside from motorsport, family and friends are the most important things for the youngster.