HONG KONG, Dec 3 (Reuters) - Germany’s Daniel Abt celebrated his birthday with a first Formula E victory on Sunday after receiving a gift from all-electric series rookie Edoardo Mortara on the streets of Hong Kong.
In Audi Sport’s second race since taking over the ABT Schaeffler team set-up by his father, Hans-Jurgen, the 25-year-old triumphed after his rival spun with less than three circuits of the 45-lap race left.
“It’s unbelievable,” said Abt, who won by 5.276 seconds from pole sitter Felix Rosenqvist with Mortara almost seven seconds further back in third. “We started the day hoping we could get 25 points on my 25th birthday and we did.
“Edoardo drove a great race but made a mistake. Maybe that was his gift to me.”
Victory put Abt into the championship lead on 36 points, ahead of British driver Sam Bird, who won Saturday’s season-opener for DS Virgin Racing and has 33 points.
The next Formula E race is in the Moroccan city of Marrakesh on Jan. 13.
“It was not easy for Audi to stick with me coming into the season as when your last name is the same as the team then you are looked at a bit differently,” Abt added.
“There were a lot of guys saying I did not deserve to be here, but I think this weekend we have proved them wrong.”
Mortara took the lead when Sweden’s Rosenqvist spun his Mahindra Racing car at the first corner of lap two in a race which began under the safety car after an issue with the start procedure.
Just when Mortara appeared set to record the Monaco-based Venturi’s first victory in just his second race for the team, he also spun at the first corner just a few laps from the chequered flag.
“I’m gutted,” said the 29-year-old Italian/Swiss dual national. “It is tough to swallow what happened. I had a problem with the brakes, but it was my fault. I was trying to push to get the extra point for the fastest lap.
“I wanted too much and made a stupid mistake. I was over-confident and should have just gone for the win.”
The win also came on Allan McNish’s first weekend as Audi team principal.
“I was nervous on the grid and got quite emotional afterwards,” said the former Toyota Formula One driver and three times Le Mans 24 Hours winner.
“You take a win when it comes and it was very late. Edo, in all honesty, deserved it but he dropped it and we were right there to pick up the pieces.” (Editing by Alan Baldwin/JOhn O’Brien)