We talk to SA hero van der Linde ahead of the Cape Town e-Prix

Dunlop Sort Maxx

All-electric Formula E motor racing comes to Cape Town in this weekend with the 25 February e-Prix. SA racing hero Kelvin van der Linde made his Formula E debut at the previous race in Saudi Arabia a few weeks ago. Michele Lupini caught up with Kelvin about Formula E and the young charger’s career in general

Auto: Being a GT driver, how big a change was it to step into a single seater for the first time for Formula E?

Kelvin: It was a major challenge because I’d never driven a single seater before! Everything is completely different. From the driver’s view so low in the car to Formula E’s street circuits – you feel so small in the car with the walls so close. So, understanding your peripheral vision is vital. I was more or less comfortable straight away and I’d say it worked out in the end!


The Novelty of a Formula E car

Auto: Tell us about the need to save and recuperate energy, driving on eco tyres and the novelty of racing the electric car?

Kelvin: Understanding energy saving is Formula E’s biggest challenge. We spend three days in the simulator pre-event, and a day after to correlate. “The engineers use that data to set up energy profiles, to determine where it is best to save energy, and where it’s efficient to burn it. We proof that again on the sim and take those energy profiles into practice. From there we follow our weekend and our rivals, and use all that to manage our performance

Auto: You were called on as substitute at the last minute In Saudi Arabia. Some say your first Formula E race went better than the results may suggest. They also say that the first driver you beat must be your teammate! Tell us more about the Saudi weekend?

Kelvin: I was thrown in the deep end and had no expectations. I’d never driven the Gen 3 car and I had to use Nico Muller’s seat, so it was a compromise all round. I was happy with a respectable qualifying and two clean races, despite a less than competitive package. And I ended ahead of my teammate in both races. Taking more experience to India will be crucial for me.

van der Linde

Kelvin is racing to Cape Town

Auto: Will you be racing Formula E in Cape Town next month?

Kelvin: I cannot confirm that yet as it depends on the man I replaced, Robin Frijns’ fitness. The odds seem good though. I will be in Cape Town either way, if I race, or if I am reserve. (Kelvin has since been confirmed for Cape Town.)

Auto: You have also raced many of your Formula E rivals in the DTM and GT racing over the years. Who do you rate and who do you rate highest of them?

Kelvin. There are so many drivers and they’re all good! Most Formula E drivers have driven in F1, Endurance, the DTM and won so many races and championships. But I’d say Lucas di Grassi’s experience stands him out. He’s also my best reference since we share the Mahindra powertrain, and so far it hasn’t been too bad.


Will Kelvin return to the DTM?

Auto: You are an established Audi Sport DTM driver. Will you return to the DTM and other GT3 series after the Formula E season?

Kelvin: The DTM deal still needs to be confirmed, but we will likely continue a third year with our same package

Auto: From winning the Nürburgring 24 to leading, and so closely missing the 2021 DTM championship, what is the highlight of your racing career so far?

Kelvin: Winning the Nürburgring 24 hour for the second time was a big highlight. But that first Nürburgring 24 win was huge in so many ways. It opened so many doors and opportunities for both me and my brother Sheldon, for both of our long-term international careers.

van der Linde

Is Formula E becoming an F1 feeder?

Auto: Tell us about living in Germany. How’s life living and racing on the Continent and around the world, and do you ever miss home?

Kelvin: Germany does feel like home but, but I have two homes. We live in Germany in season and return to our real home in South Africa for the off season. That’s an awesome compromise as we end up with two summers every year. Summer is great in the German countryside, and then it’s always so good to break away and spend my African summer back home with friends and family.

Auto: And finally, Formula E is becoming a feeder to Formula and former champion Nyck de Vries has secured a F1 seat. Is it exciting to know that such a door may still open in future, especially with your loyal employer Audi stepping up in ’26?

Kelvin: To be honest, I have no connection with Audi in F1 and at 26, every year that passes, it becomes increasingly difficult to image a Formula 1 career. I’ll be 30 in 2026! But you never know, Nyck had given up on F1 and now he’s rekindled his career. To be realistic, it’s unlikely and I don’t have any tangible F1 plans. I’m happy doing what I do now, especially with Formula E becoming increasingly relevant. See you all at the Cape Town e-Prix!


See you at the Cape Town e-Prix!

Formula E races at a custom street circuit around the stadium and Waterfront in Cape Town this coming Saturday 25 February.

Photographs: ABT Cupra

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