Audi explains error behind Daniel Abt exclusion, confirms plan to appeal
The Audi Sport Abt Formula E team insists Daniel Abt's disqualification was caused by an "administrative mistake", not a result of changing parts illegally that gave it a performance advantage.
In this handout from FIA Formula E - Daniel Abt (GER), Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler, Audi e-tron FE04 during the Hong Kong ePrix, Round 2 of the 2017/18 FIA Formula E Series at the Central Harbourfront Circuit on December 03, 2017 in Hong Kong, Hong Kong.
Published 03/12/2017 at 14:00 GMT | Updated 03/12/2017 at 14:56 GMT
Abt lost his and the works Audi team's first win in the electric single-seater series when a post-race inspection revealed the barcodes on the inverters and motors did not correspond with those declared on the technical passport for one of Abt's cars.
A statement from the team stressed that "the parts are identical and all fully correspond to homologation".
"Daniel drove fantastically on both days and absolutely deserves this victory," said Audi team principal Allan McNish.
"What we are apparently suspected of is an administrative mistake in the car's passport that didn't give us any advantage at all. We want the opportunity to be able to clarify all details, that's why we've announced the intent to appeal."
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A call on whether to go ahead with the appeal will be made in the coming days, and if Audi decides to do so then the matter will be put forward to the FIA's International Tribunal.
The decision dropped Abt out of the lead of the drivers' championship after the opening two races this weekend. He scored all of Audi's points in Hong Kong as team-mate and reigning champion Lucas di Grassi suffered a dismal pair of races.
A problem in the car swaps cost Abt a podium on Saturday, though he still charged back to fifth, and on Sunday he took victory after poleman Felix Rosenqvist spun at the first corner at the start and long-time race leader Edoardo Mortara spun with less than three laps remaining.
McNish described it as a "bittersweet end to the day" and said Abt deserved the win.
"The person that crossed the line first was Daniel," he added. "He drove really, really well, and was there every time there was an opportunity to grab. It was one of his best races, and on his 25th birthday as well."
Abt tweeted that he was "heartbroken" with the decision, and was "struggling to find words" after losing his first win since the 2012 GP3 season.