ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport

Getty Images

Di Grassi calls Mexico Formula E win ‘one of the best races of my life’

Leave a comment

Lucas di Grassi has called his last-to-first charge to victory in Saturday’s Mexico City ePrix “one of the best races of my life” as he slashed the gap to Formula E championship leader Sebastien Buemi.

Di Grassi qualified a lowly 18th on Saturday before being hit on the opening lap of the race, prompting the ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport team to pit the Brazilian early and complete a rear wing change.

After narrowly avoiding going a lap down, di Grassi made a second stop ahead of schedule after a safety car period, swapping cars to give himself track position once the leading drivers all pitted.

Despite having far less energy with which to complete the race, di Grassi managed the situation well and kept clear to take a memorable victory at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.

“I had a very poor qualifying today so I started at the back. Somebody crashed into my back, broke my rear wing,” di Grassi explained.

“There was a safety car, I came back, I was last. And then the safety car came about Lap 18. By that moment, when I did the stop, I thought that after the safety car went out and I had a 25 second lead to the next car when they exited the pits with half the race to go, I think I could have fought for the win, because I was roughly two seconds off and there was 14 laps remaining in that moment.

“So I thought that it was going to be tight but I could have made it. When the second safety car came and I had much less energy than those guys, I went on the radio because the safety car came in and the car was moving already. In my head I’d lost the race in that moment, because I was not able to hold them up with the amount of energy I had.

“And then luckily I had Jerome [d’Ambrosio] behind me with a little bit of hold up. I managed to create a gap and kept on just using regen, just tried to be as energy-efficient as possible, just trying to focus on my race until the last corner and just celebrated like crazy.

“For me it was one of the best races of my life in terms of how I drove the second stint, of how energy efficient I had to be.”

The result saw di Grassi end Buemi’s win streak at three races and sliced the Renault driver’s championship lead from 29 to just five points as he could only finish 13th.

Formula E returns in Monaco on May 13.

Lucas di Grassi ‘likely’ to make Le Mans, WEC appearances in 2017

© Audi Sport
Leave a comment

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – Lucas di Grassi says that he is “likely” to race in this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans despite Audi’s withdrawal from the FIA World Endurance Championship at the end of 2016.

Di Grassi previously balanced duties between Audi’s LMP1 team and with its affiliated ABT Schaeffler operation in Formula E, with the latter now becoming his priority for 2017.

A number of drivers involved in both WEC and Formula E face dilemmas over which to prioritize later in the year.

Most notably, the New York Formula E double-header clashes with WEC’s visit to the Nürburgring, ruling out a number of drivers from the electric event including Sebastien Buemi, Jose Maria Lopez and Sam Bird.

Di Grassi believes it will be hard for Formula E to avoid clashing with other series as it expands, and thinks that drivers will need to fully commit to the championship down the line.

“With Formula E expanding, I think it will be hard not to have clashes in the future. I hope there are no clashes,” di Grassi told NBC Sports.

“For me with Audi, they told me: ‘The priority is Formula E. If you want to do one or two other races, you can.’ They even told me if you want to do WEC, you can, but the priority is Formula E. You have to miss the WEC.

“It’s a very clear, straightforward view for us, for ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport. For the team the priority is Formula E. That I understand and I agree that Formula E is getting to a level where it is getting very complicated, very detail oriented, so you need to focus on that.”

When asked if he would be racing at Le Mans and making other WEC appearances, di Grassi said it was “likely”.

“My interest is in the Pro categories. Either LMP1 or GTE Pro,” di Grassi added.

“I think GTE is the future. P1, you have very little cars, only two manufacturers. For GTE the tendency is to grow. GTE is very interesting in a career point of view.

“But still to be discussed if Audi would release me or not to do it.

“But normally Audi understand quite well if I want to do another race in which they don’t compete.”

Audi set for factory Formula E entry from season four

© Audi Sport
Leave a comment

Audi is set to upscale its involvement in Formula E with the ABT Schaeffler team to a factory entry from the 2017/18 season.

Audi has been present in Formula E since its inception in 2014, supporting the ABT team by supplying it with factory driver Lucas di Grassi and offering the team access to its facilities at Neuburg in Germany.

In a bid to keep up with the works backing of manufacturers such as Renault, DS, and Jaguar, Audi will step up its support for ABT from season three before becoming a factory entry from season four.

“Electric mobility is one of the key topics in our industry. We intend to evolve into one of the leading premium car manufacturers in this field,” Audi board member Dr. Stefan Knirsch said.

“By 2025, every fourth Audi should be an electric vehicle. The first model for this is planned to be an SUV we’re going to present in 2018.

“In the light of these plans, adapting our motorsport program and taking up a commitment in a fully electric racing series is only a logical move.”

Audi motorsport chief Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich added: “Audi has consistently been using motorsport to test and develop new technologies further for subsequent use in production.

“With quattro drive we revolutionized rally racing and subsequently set standards in circuit racing as well. In the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Audi was the first manufacturer to have achieved victories with a TFSI engine, a TDI and a hybrid race car, so writing motorsport history on several occasions.

“Now we intend to repeat this in fully electric racing. Formula E with its races being held in the hearts of major cities is an ideal stage for this purpose and Team ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport a logical partner for us.”

Audi will offer the ABT team increased financial and technical support from the forthcoming Formula E season, set to start in Hong Kong on October 9. The team will also sport the Audi logo on its car from the second round of Formula E collective testing at Donington Park next week.

Abt quickest on final day of first Donington Formula E test

© Getty Images
Leave a comment

Daniel Abt made the most of drab conditions at Donington Park on Thursday to close out the first collective Formula E pre-season test at the top of the timesheets.

Overnight rain left the track damp at the start of the morning session, and although the skies remained overcast throughout the day, times were just a few tenths off the benchmark set on Wednesday by Jean-Eric Vergne.

Abt’s fastest lap of 1:30.073 from the morning session held out as the fastest time overall on Thursday despite a late flurry of full-power laps in the afternoon.

Nick Heidfeld finished the day second for Mahindra ahead of Nico Prost, while afternoon leader Vergne was fourth-fastest in the overall timesheets.

Jaguar Racing continued its driver evaluation by drafting in Ford WEC driver Harry Tincknell to partner Adam Carroll. Tincknell finished with a fastest lap of 1:33.927, good enough for P16 in the morning session.

Thursday also saw Indy Lights title contender Dean Stoneman make his first Formula E appearance, driving for NextEV in place of Oliver Turvey – en route to Japan for Super GT – and Nelson Piquet Jr. – who had to leave early to go to the Red Bull GRC event.

Collective Formula E testing resumes at Donington Park next month, with another three days of running scheduled from September 5-7.

Buemi angry with ‘disrespectful’ di Grassi after FE clash

© FIA Formula E
2 Comments

LONDON, UK – Fresh from his FIA Formula E championship victory on Sunday at Battersea Park, Sebastien Buemi made no secret of his annoyance with Lucas di Grassi following their clash on the first lap of the race.

Di Grassi hit the back of Buemi’s car at Turn 3 on the first lap, having been level on points heading into the race. Both managed to continue, switching cars to try and pick up the two bonus points on offer for setting the fastest lap.

Amid suspect tactics and accusations of blocking on hot laps, Buemi ultimately recorded the fastest time to score the two points needed – despite finishing 17 laps down in P15.

Although Buemi was pleased to have won the title, he conceded that it was not done in the manner that he would have liked.

“The most important thing in the end is that we won both championships,” Buemi said.

“I just came back from race direction. I had a look at the video and I am actually really sad. Firstly, to win it that way and second of all to see what Lucas did.

“He went between Nico and the wall and there was 5 cm. And when he braked, he had two options: either go to the right and nail the back of my car. He nailed it perfectly, but a little bit too strong because we both went out.

“I just came from race direction and he said I brake tested him. I was quite impressed he could actually say that. If you look at my braking, I braked very late.

“I think what he did is more than unacceptable. And then the fastest lap thing is the worst of the worst. We will never know if he did it on purpose or not, he will always say he didn’t do it on purpose, but then the fastest lap story, this of course he did on purpose.”

Buemi was particularly annoyed by the accusation from di Grassi that he braked 50 metres early at Turn 3.

“Of course you are always going to brake in a different way because the brakes are cold, the tires are cold and we don’t have any formation lap,” Buemi said.

“I had a look at the footage, what he said is actually disrespectful. First of all, he is lying and then he is trying to blame someone else.

“Honestly, I have zero respect for the guy. We will see what race direction says but I am very happy with what I have done, because I did the right thing.”

In the end, the stewards deemed di Grassi to have caused a collision, resulting in a 50-second post-race time penalty that had no bearing on his final position or the championship result.