Ahead of qualifying at the first race of Formula E’s Season 7, Allan McNish believes group qualifying – and the balance of experience between his two drivers – means it’s impossible to predict what results are possible. But perhaps that’s the joy of Formula E?
Speaking ahead of the second free practice session for today’s Diriyah E-Prix, McNish talked about the qualifying outlook for Audi drivers Lucas di Grassi and René Rast; “I think it very much depends where you stand in front of the garage, the right or the left-hand side. Because it’s a bit difficult,” McNish said.
“Lucas is in group one. The track evolution’s big here, so I think it’s going to be very tough for him to be in a position to think about results at the beginning of this race weekend. René is in group three, which is much better but René, on the other side of it, doesn’t necessarily have that depth of experience, especially here, because he’s only done whatever laps we did yesterday. “
Coming off the back of Audi’s worst-ever season (sixth overall in the teams’ standings), McNish said there was plenty to be optimistic about heading into the team’s final season in Formula E.
“We’ve got definitely a development on the car, we’ve got, I think, two strong drivers pushing each other really well,” said McNish.
“The team’s strengthened a little bit and working well together, we hope to come out with a good haul of points but I’m very aware that you could be very easily in a situation in Lucas’ case where you’re right at the back on day one and then you’ve got the opportunity on day two because then it’s on championship order – this is referring to the championship of last year, not to where we are today, the way tomorrow does.
“Last year, well, it wasn’t a great season by a long way. However, we still came out with a podium and a fastest lap on our side and [Envision Virgin] had a victory with Sam Bird. So, you know, we can do it. But right now it’s a bit like the lottery, you know, I’m not sure which way it’s going to go.”
It might seem obviously frustrating, as a team principal, to go into a weekend facing so much uncertainty despite manufacturer resources and preparation. McNish disagreed; “It’s one of the great things. It’s one of the things I like, is that you actually have to race Formula E,” he said.
“Normally, say with Formula 1 you would have been able to predict which one or most sports you could predict what it’s going to be. But just with the variables, like in some respects with it, because of variables we don’t control, because we’ve got to do all of this.
“But then it’s thrown out by the fact that the circuit evolution from group one to group three could be four or five tenths of a second. And then you’re in that position, but that’s what it is. And it’s the same for everyone.”
Nevertheless, he believes consistency and ability rise to the front over the course of a year of racing, “Over a season, I’m a big believer that the law of averages wins out, so if you deliver on your bad, your difficult days as well as your good days, then you’ll be there fighting in the end. And I think we’ll be fighting there at the end.”