Q&A WITH LUCAS DI GRASSI
On his first day at Mahindra Racing HQ, we sat down with new signing Lucas Di Grassi to get his thoughts on his move to the team and his ambitions for the future.
Welcome to Mahindra Racing! How does it feel to be with your new team and prepping for the new season?
It’s a big honour to be driving and racing for Mahindra next season. Formula E has evolved a lot over the last eight years and for me this period where there is a transition between the Gen 2 and Gen 3 cars is the perfect time to switch to a new team, and this is because everybody starts from scratch.
Why did you decide to make the move to Mahindra Racing?
I had a discussion with Dilbagh when Audi decided to leave Formula E at the end of Season 7 as it was quite an unexpected decision, and he mentioned that Mahindra would be interested in me joining from Season 9 – the start of the Gen 3 era. Having the big manufacturer of Mahindra behind the race team, and the team’s commitment in Formula E for at least the Gen 3 era made it a good decision both short and long-term for my career.
Are you looking forward to racing alongside Oliver Rowland?
I have a huge respect for Oliver, he has had amazing results in Formula E and in his junior career before that. He is a very fast guy – we faced each other in the Duels in Seoul which was a lot of fun! The way he approaches racing, how hard he pushes and his ambition for his career is brilliant to have as a teammate.
You’ve had an impressive and illustrious career, but what have been your personal biggest highlights?
I had the pleasure of driving the world’s fastest cars in Formula 1, hybrids at Le Mans, sports cars, Formula E and more. I even got to drive against a fully AI driverless car. I have seen in the last 10-15 years of my career a big change in motorsport… but I think the highlights have been the races that I won, the teams that I have worked with – these are the memories that will stay with me.
We are about to begin the Gen 3 era in Formula E – what do you think this step-up means for the sport?
It is a huge step up for Formula E, not only in terms of power and speed, but also in terms of complexity, professionalism, maturity of the series etc. It is no longer something that is upcoming and new, it has reached a big milestone, and the technology of electric vehicles are of course improving too. For the teams that are staying, the complexity increases, the car becomes faster and energy management will be different. It is brilliant to see the evolution of the sport and we need to continue to evolve.
What are your on-track aims and ambitions for Season 9?
I believe we will be able to be very competitive, back to winning races and being towards the top of the standings. With the new generation of car there are opportunities for teams who can find the right set-up and strategy to do really well.
Mahindra Racing has recently announced they will be providing the powertrain for ABT on their return to the sport, given your links with both teams, you must be excited about this partnership?
Yes, this is another reason I feel hopeful that we can achieve big goals next year, I know ABT very well and I know how capable they are and how hard they will work just like the Mahindra team will too. It will be a great partnership with Mahindra providing the powertrain and ABT providing a lot of knowhow and expertise from decades of racing, achieving drivers’ and teams’ world titles in Formula E.
You are a passionate sustainability campaigner. Formula E and its teams have made big steps in the fight against climate change, but there’s always more to do! What would you like to see happen over the next few years?
I think the main purpose of Formula E is to accelerate the technological development of electric mobility and to showcase that to the world. Of course, it is also very important that everything we do alongside the racing also sets an example – recycled bottles, using less tyres etc. but this still has a very small impact compared to the amount of oil we could save by improving efficiency of the powertrains of millions of cars worldwide. Going forward, I want to see more and more relevancy in producing the technologies that will provide that right commercial path for the future of powertrains, and sending this message to more and more fans across the world.