Following Robin Frijns‘ nasty crash at the season-opening race of the 2022/23 ABB FIA Formula E World Championship, the ABT CUPRA Formula E Team have confirmed that South African sports car driver Kelvin van der Linde will replace the Dutchman at next weekend’s double-header in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia.
Frijns was taken straight to hospital in Mexico City after slamming into the back of Norman Nato on the opening lap, effectively destroying his left hand in the process. The collision fractured Frijns’ hand and wrist, resulting in a five-hour surgery. From the sounds of things, Frijns did a real number on his hand, with The Race reporting that the Dutch driver will be absent from the majority of this season as a result. It marks a miserable start to Gen3 for both Frijns and ABT Cupra, given the experience the driver offers.
Frijns has actually given another update on social media about his progress, with the Dutch driver having been given the all clear to travel home to start would could be a lengthy recovery period.
In the social media post in question, Frijns thanked the hospital and the staff who treated him so well, hailing them as having saved “my career”.
Frijns wrote: “Finally going home! Can’t thank everyone enough for their amazing support I received. Especially to Dr. Max who operated me on my hand and wrist. The whole team at the Hospital Angeles Acoxpa was there for me from the very start till the very end when I was leaving. It’s these people that are the real hero’s of this world. Always ready to help people, trying to safe people’s lives or in my case: my career. Thank you!”
With van der Linde set to race for ABT Cupra for at least the next few rounds, presumably, he’ll become the first South African driver to race in Formula E. He’s timed his debut in the sport well, as he’ll also get to enjoy the first Formula E race in South Africa, as Formula E visits Cape Town for Round Five. ABT know the South African incredibly well, with the driver having raced for their DTM side the last two seasons.
It was confirmed by ABT Cupra Team Principal Thomas Biermaier that van der Linde would replace Frijns, with the South African being a key member of the “ABT family” and was always planned to be the team’s official reserve driver.
“Kelvin has been part of the ABT family for years in a variety of roles. He has been involved since the beginning of our comeback project and was intended as Reserve Driver right from the start – so it was immediately clear to us that he would take over from Robin. We are in constant contact with Robin and wish him a speedy recovery. Even though everyone in the team misses him a lot, we’re giving him all the time he needs to fully recover from the injury – that’s our absolute priority.
“The task and challenge for Kelvin to start in a World Championship without any testing is of course gigantic but he is highly motivated, works hard and the whole team will support him without any pressure.”
For van der Linde, it marks a venture into single-seater racing, with the driver having previously tested for Audi’s Formula E side in 2020. As pleased and excited as he is to be competing in the all-electric series, van der Linde was quick to send Frijns his best wishes for a speedy recovery.
“To compete in Formula E is a dream of mine – but of course I wanted the circumstances of my debut to be different. I’m very sorry for Robin and I hope he’ll be fit again quickly. I am happy about the trust and the challenge. Now I have a few long days ahead of me and then I will do my best to stand in for Robin as well as possible.”