Audi Sport Team Schaeffler’s Lucas di Grassi took time out in preparation for this weekend’s Hong Kong ePrix to reflect on his racing team’s transition from ABT to full fledged Audi Sport Factory Team.
“It is inherently different to have a factory team” said Di Grassi. “We have a lot more resources to work on the team. We have different engineers / performance engineers. Everything has stepped up. Like Formula E, everybody is stepping. I’ve been with Audi fpr five years. Now it’s a matter of getting used to Formula E”.
With much debate around the feasibility of staging a Formula 1 race in Brazil, Di Grassi expressed some regret that racing in his own country would have to wait, with the Sao Paolo ePrix delayed until Season 5.
“It’s a bit frustrating for me because I wanted to race in front of my fans, in my home city” admitted Lucas. “But I think for the mid to long term, it’s good. It’s what the promoter and the city decided to do – to create an even better event and a long term commitment. I am of the view that when you do it, it is better to do it properly. So this year maybe it was a bit of a rush, because the race is in three months, so now they have time to plan it and do a super event. I will be doing whatever I can to promote the race there and try to really make it happen”.
Di Grassi believes that the privatization of the original race venue that led to the postponement of the Sao Paolo ePrix would ultimately be a good outcome for his home ePrix.
“I think this is the main point” added Lucas. “Because of the change in ownership they could not commit for long term – It would be a new owner. It’s better the new owner comes, they do a long term contract, and everything happens normally.
While his Drivers Championship has been received back home, the Brazilian believes there is still a way to go for his chosen formula to gain the notoriety enjoyed by Formula 1.
“I had a very good response” said Di Grassi. “Of course everybody was very happy. But Brazil still needs to wake up a lot, not only for Formula E and for different types of motorsport, but for the future of the industry in general. They are very far behind on electric car policies and promoting electric cars, so Formula E is still very small compared to Formula 1. While in most places I had a lot of coverage, if you compare to Formula One in Brazil, it’s not so much. I think when a race happens in Sao Paolo, it could change the perception of Formula E. It can grow a lot in Brazil. Very few people [in Brazil] have been to a Formula E race. That’s why we have to work so much to making the race in Sao Paolo successful”.
“I have been with Audi since 2012. Four years in LMP1 with them, very successful. I loved driving that car [Audi R18 TDI] and I really miss it. But the new era is coming – we need to modernize. The future is electric and Formula E is the place to be. I’m very happy that Audi made this decision and we are now fully supported by Audi. I think we can only gain and improve with that”.
Images: FIA Formula E / Audi Sport
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