For the first time in his career, Lucas di Grassi enters a motorsport season in car number “1.” The reigning Formula E Champion is one of the co-founders and first ambassadors of the all-electric racing series and, on clinching the title at the end of July, has made a dream of his come true – but the South American is not about to rest on these laurels.
On July 30, 2017 at 4.58 PM local time, the mission is completed: seventh place in the last race of the third season means he has achieved his triumph. He is the new Formula E Champion. The Brazilian, who has been living in Monaco with his wife, Bianca, for many years, has come full circle. Long before the first cars hit the tracks, di Grassi assists Alejandro Agag, the CEO of the series, and his deputy, Alberto Longo, in designing and developing the concept of Formula E and has been one of its most prominent ambassadors ever since.
Now, di Grassi is entering his fourth season as the title defender, as the number on his car clearly shows. “In my karting days, I often had number eleven, which also matches my birthday, and ‘eight’ in the sports car. Now I’m looking forward to ‘one’ – it shows that we’ve achieved an exceptional feat,” says di Grassi who, nonetheless, knows full well that: “Yesterday’s trophies don’t win any of tomorrow’s races. We’re all starting again with zero points and may be seeing the hardest-fought Formula E season to date.”
Hard work is something di Grassi is used to because his career as a race driver was by no means predestined. “I don’t come from a motorsport family, but my uncle had a kart store in Interlagos – so I often spent time there and drove around,” relates di Grassi. Various single-seater categories follow, as well as victory in the Macau Grand Prix in 2005, the “vice-championship” win in the GP2 series and in 2010 even a season in Formula 1. In 2012, Lucas di Grassi becomes an Audi factory driver and mounts the podium three times in the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans alone.
Lucas di Grassi has gone down in the history of the still young Formula E championship: In September 2014, he wins the first race ever in Beijing. After three seasons, he can look back on 20 podium finishes – a record number in the field. After finishing third overall in the first year and runner-up in the second year, the title follows in the 2016/2017 season. Each time, the championship is only decided in the very last race of the season.
Outside the cockpit, Lucas di Grassi enjoys high recognition in the paddock: with the media as an authentic partner in interviews who rarely minces his words, with the fans because he fulfills nearly every wish for a photo or an autograph. And, not least, with the engineers of his team because he not only delivers strong racing results, but with his experience and precise statements, drives the development of the race car as well.
A passion for technology and innovations also determines Lucas di Grassi’s personal life. He is enthusiastic about all types of technical gadgets, develops electric bicycles with a start-up business in Brazil and, since September 2017, has been CEO of Roborace – a company that aims to advance automated driving with an unmanned car and is also part of the supporting program of Formula E.
Following the title win, another dream of Lucas di Grassi’s is coming true in 2018: Formula E will race in his native São Paulo. “I’ve been wishing for this from the very first minute and given all my support to us being able to race there,” he says. The circuit will run through the same grandstand-lined streets the carnival marches on as well. There’s just one problem at his home round that Lucas di Grassi is already aware of now and mentions with a smile: “If I want to have my whole family and all my friends there, I’ll probably have to set up my own E-Motion Club …”