Robin Friens will end his four-season stay at Envision Racing after the 2022 Formula E season and it is time to join the re-launched Abt Sportsline team for the start of the Gen3 era in 2023.
The Race realizes that the two-time Formula E race winner is close to signing a contract with the new Abt team with which he competed in the DTM from 2018 to 2020, finishing third in the 2020 rankings.
Freins is currently ranked fourth on the Formula E points table after a strong start to this campaign, in which he finished on the podium in three of the six races held so far.
He joined the then-appointed Envision Virgin team in the summer of 2018 and achieved the first of his victories at the Paris E-Prix in April 2019. This was followed by his second victory in New York.
Since then, Freins has finished second on five occasions behind the Chinese-owned team, the British, and it was believed he had agreed and would initially likely sign a new deal for at least part of the 3rd generation era to begin next January.
But in recent months the likelihood of this happening has diminished and is believed to have peaked last month when Frins and Envision failed to agree on terms for a new deal.
Although Freins declined to comment on his future at the recent Monaco E-Prix, Envision team boss Sylvain Filippi admitted he was fully aware that his driver would inevitably be connected to the Abt seat given their past relationship.
“It simply came to our notice then [about drivers for 2023] because we haven’t made our plans yet, “Filippi told The Race.
“Robin will be connected to Abt in the same way that drivers have a lot of connections with past teams.
“My focus at the moment is always the same. Focus on my key pillars of drivers, team, car, development, all the things that affect performance.
“You have a little more time for drivers. Ultimately, it all comes down to performance potential. I don’t know much about the setting of the Abt, so I think drivers ultimately decide based on many factors. “
Abt should use Mahindra powertrains for its return to Formula E and will be set to receive a distribution of test days ahead of the 2023 season.
The technical leadership of the Gen3 project is led by the ZF Technology Group in collaboration with Mahindra’s longtime technical manager, Lewis Butler, and Performance Director, Josef Holden.
Filippi highlighted his perception of driving criteria for future places in Formula E, citing performance as a major attraction, but also accepting that other factors come into play.
“You’d think the performance is pretty up there in terms of where they want to go,” he said.
“But there are other factors: financial, proximity, geography, affinity with teams and other opportunities, so the situation is quite complex.
“In the past, we’ve seen some weird decisions sometimes in other motorsport series, but it’s too early to tell.
“For me, I’m pretty relaxed because we have such a large talent base here and we’re also knocking on doors.
So we don’t lack talent, we are a very attractive championship, I am lucky to lead a team that is really stable, well funded and with great, great performance potential in the next four years, which is the main reason why a driver would really like to come here. is our team record.
“Whatever car we have, we are always there and we hope to have a strong technical partnership for next year. So that’s what attracts drivers the most. ”
It is believed that Freins’ upcoming plans were verbally agreed with Abt, but have not yet been fully formalized.
The announcement of who will join Freins in the team will come later this summer. Nico Mueller is also in talks with the team he finished with as runner-up in the 2019 and 2020 DTMs.
Both Freins and Mueller are expected to continue some of their dual programs at the 2023 World Endurance Championships. They are currently competing for the WRT and Vector Sports teams.
Meanwhile, it is known that Envision has already formed a shortlist of drivers who will join the already contracted Nick Cassidy for the first season of the Gen3 competition in 2023.