Only four drivers have been announced for the inaugural season of Formula E, Jaime Alguersuari and Sam Bird who will be racing under the Virgin Racing Team banner and the Audi Sport ABT team with Lucas Di Grassi and Daniel Abt, who is a young talent with plenty of potential.
The 21 year old German began his racing career in 2007 with the common beginnings of a single seater driver. He competed in karts and finished 2nd in the ADAC Kart Championship.
That success saw him graduate into formula racing for his father’s team ABT Sportsline, as he took in the ADAC Formula Masters series and said: “it helped me a great deal,” said Abt to his official site. “I was able to learn a lot off the track as well.”
While the experience was important for the young German driver, he did show signs of his vast potential finishing the season 8th overall. Most notably, he was able to pick up two 2nd place finishes and one 3rd despite being the youngest driver on the field.
The following year was to be his breakthrough year that ended with him being described as “Germany’s motorsport talent of the year.” He went from an 8th placed season to a victorious season in a year. He managed to pick up ten podium places. However, far more impressive were his race results where he won a staggering eight races and qualified on pole seven times.
His meteoric rise opened the door for Abt, and he tested in the German Formula 3 Championship as a guest entrant for Performance Racing. He obviously did enough, as he ended up staying with the series at Van Amersfoort Racing Team for the 2010 season.
Van Amersfoort Racing Team certainly picked the right driver, as Abt was unlucky to lose out on the title. In the final race, a technical issue cost him his race. The end result of the failure meant he finished 8 points behind the eventual champion. It was a tough way to end the season, but he had done enough to get yet more opportunities in 2011.
In one year, he tested an Audi in DTM, finished 7th in the Formula 3 Euro series and picked up a fourth place finish in the FIA Formula 3 International Trophy.
It was a year that could be seen as testing the water for Abt, trying several series, but he was able to make a decision for 2012 after testing in a GP3 car for the hugely successful Lotus GP.
Abt’s ability, in particular, his fast lap times, saw Lotus GP offer him a seat for 2012.
It was a match made in heaven, his driving talent was matched with a highly successful team, so it was hardly surprising to see the German finish second overall with two wins and seven podiums.
While it was disappointing not to get first, he did more than enough to impress, and was given the chance to move with Lotus into GP2.
“I cannot tell you how happy I am to have the opportunity to race in GP2 with the best team I can imagine,” said Abt to Autosport. “Already in GP3 we had a really good relationship and worked together well. We finished second in the championship it felt like the right choice for me to go one step higher in my career.”
His one step higher came courtesy of team boss Frederic Vasseur, who was glowing with praise for the young driver ahead of his first season with the GP2 series: “Daniel is the GP3 driver who has improved the most over the course of the last season,” said Vasseur to Autosport. “He finished either first or second in the last seven races, showing he has what it takes to fight for the title until the final race and that he fully deserved to win. His mind, his raw talent and his ability to adapt and grow convinced Lotus GP to help him take the step up into the GP2 Series.”
Unfortunately, for all the high praise, Abt’s rise to prominence took a step backwards. He finished a poor 22nd with only 11 points.
His stock was high enough however to see him remain in the series with Hilmer Motorsport, and also become one of the first drivers to compete in the Formula E series.
Abt will take to the track for the first race of the Formula E season at Beijing, and with the rate Abt’s career is progressing, we could be looking at one of the best up and coming drivers in Europe.