Allan McNish on Audi’s Formula E manufacturer renaissance

The last time I sat down for an interview with Allan McNish was at the Geneva International Motor Show earlier this year. Months before our meeting at the world-famous exhibition, McNish was confirmed as the Team Principal at the Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler Formula E Team – arguably a big jump for the hugely successful racing driver into managing a Formula E team. It is fair to say the start of the season for the team didn’t quite go to plan: disqualification, disappointment and disaster for then-series Champion Lucas di Grassi. Odds of winning the Constructors’ title seemed near impossible mid-way through the season, with McNish telling me that “the chances of winning the championship is a bit like a train that had already departed the station.” Fast forward just a little over seven months later and Allan and I reunited for another 1-to-1 interview. This time we are sat in the Audi Motorhome in Valencia as pre-season testing gets underway behind us. It is a very chilled environment, drivers Daniel Abt and Lucas di Grassi continue to soak up laps during the three day test in a car that looks to be pretty competitive for season five, oh and Audi did the impossible and are the current Constructors’ champions.

“That sounds like a good analogy, doesn’t it?”, McNish begins with when I tell him of his ever-so slightly pessimistic attitude the last time we managed to sit down for an interview. “There was a few times when I look back and think, there is no way that that could ever happen,” he continued. “If you look at the points and where we were and the performance we had and the performance everybody else had, then normally, it wasn’t possible. I think it was partly due to, I would say, a reasonable car, because I do think the car was good. No, we knew the car was always good. We knew we could be competitive.

“Us taking advantage of every situation that came, I think that was one key factor. Another key factor was having two drivers that were competitive all the time. And that wasn’t the case with everybody in the pit lane. And the final one was, when it came down to it, we held our nerve, and not everybody did.”

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“It’s black or it’s white – there is no grey”: Allan McNish talks the ‘challenging’ transition from Driver to Team Principal

Allan McNish is someone who knows motorsport like the back of his hand. An ex-Formula One driver, 2013 FIA World Endurance Champion, and three-time 24hs Le Mans winner, McNish is not only one of the most talented individuals in motorsport, he is also one of the most-liked and respected.

These days he can be found offering expert opinions and analysis for the WEC ‘Super Season’ as a broadcaster or in his newly-appointed role of Team Principal for the Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler Formula E Team. Having been linked with Audi Sport since 1999 and proving his worth as a truly fantastic ambassador for the German car manufacturer, it was no surprise that since announcing his retirement in 2013 he has stayed within the motorsport community in a more managerial role.

“I had a lot of success on the circuit but we [myself and Audi] also had success off it and so when I stopped racing, I knew I wanted to continue in the sport because it is my life and also because I knew that I wanted to continue with the people I had built my life with,” McNish states when I ask him about life after professional racing.

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