Robin Frijns reduce a way more relaxed and affable determine within the Valencia paddock final week in comparison with the drained and dejected determine we noticed within the second half of the 2022 Formulation E season.
A fractious finish to his four-season stint at Envision performed out amid estranged relationships and a barely bitter ending of what was usually a fruitful partnership – proper to the top of their time collectively.
One of many causes for that was Frijns’ disappointment on his facet of the storage modifications half manner by way of the marketing campaign. This unbalanced the Dutch ace who had a very good factor going for almost all of his profession with the Chinese language-owned squad.
Now, he’s with the returning ABT operation, a group of individuals he is aware of intimately from his time with them in DTM that spanned three seasons.
Frijns is candid when he talks to The Race about his new route, which he selected over a renewed contract with Envision final Might.
Whereas he is perhaps extra comfy within the close-knit environs of ABT Cupra, he’s additionally conscious that it gained’t be till the second half of the season that the massive outcomes are more likely to be achievable.
“For certain it’s going to be robust however as we noticed, particularly final yr, you might be solely nearly as good because the group is, and understanding ABT I got here right here, I do know the mechanics, I do know the engineers,” he says.
He is aware of them very effectively as his efficiency engineer, Marc Russouw, additionally labored with Frijns in DTM.
“If you happen to lose your engineers, particularly efficiency and system engineer, you’re gone,” says Frijns.
“That’s what I noticed at Envision final yr. My efficiency engineer left, after which I used to be struggling so much.”
Struggling the order of the day for Frijns, a two-time Formulation E winner, final week. However a breakthrough got here as soon as he and his ABT Cupra crew bought clear laps in after the inevitable bedding-in course of that was required after the group got here straight from its Kempten base to Spain with out even a roll-out run.
“I’m not saying that Mahindra is the very best automobile, distant from that in the intervening time, and I nonetheless suppose that DS appears very robust, but when we get a half respectable bundle we will do good issues by way of the yr,” provides Frijns
“For certain we are going to battle originally of the season, for certain we might be off the tempo, particularly within the race I imagine we’ll be off the tempo, however a minimum of we’ve the nice brains to get issues circled by way of the yr.”
Frijns and team-mate Nico Mueller barely bought any operating previous to the pre-season Valencia take a look at, though they attended producer take a look at days with Mahindra, Abt’s ‘mothership’ provider.
“I did three take a look at days, however in two of them we broke down. So about 20 laps or so,” he rued.
In Valencia, Frijns proved to be one of many quickest in 300kw mode, however “within the background, we nonetheless had plenty of points to type out.
“We’re distant from race prepared. We are able to do a lap time, in all probability in Mexico, however within the race, we are going to battle so much as a result of we’re simply not on level,” he added.
Gen2 was all about retaining the minimal velocity as excessive as potential, with Gen3 it’s very completely different.
Frijns describes it as “a little bit of a mixture of start-stop cornering” and “it veers so much, but it surely’s all in regards to the methods which aren’t actually working for us 100% but”.
Braking is a large subject for Frijns. Sometimes, he’s a driver who depends on feeling and reflex. That’s why he has a powerful dislike for simulators and if he doesn’t know the brakes and tips on how to naturally really feel them the entire nook is gone for him.
“We’ve been engaged on the brakes for 2 days now and I get the texture of it, I get the hold of it, I perceive a bit extra however I’m distant to say we’ve bought it sorted. However that’s additionally associated to methods.
“The higher the methods the higher I can management the automobile in a manner, so we’ll for certain see some automobiles, I feel DS might be one of many first ones which have a really clean manner of driving it.
“We’re not distant from that time but. In Gen2, the drivers can have their enter, good drivers can change one thing and the group can change perhaps the larger half.
“Now it’s a little bit of a special type of combine. It’s extra methods associated for me. If you happen to don’t get the methods on level, you’re manner off.
“You may drive nearly as good as you need, you’re nonetheless a second off. I imply that’s what I had on day one among Valencia; I did what I assumed was a very good lap, and it was a second off and I used to be ‘what the?’
“Now, we’re bettering plenty of issues within the automobile and we’re understanding higher, now I wouldn’t say we’re one of many quickest however I actually felt aggressive from Thursday onwards.”