Lucas di Grassi says he is proud of his season and has no regrets, despite leaving Battersea Park having lost the drivers’ championship to Sébastien Buemi by just two points.
Starting third in the final race of the season, behind polesitter Buemi and his team-mate Nicolas Prost, di Grassi knew he had to be aggressive at the start in order to stand a chance of fighting against Buemi for the race win. Turn 3 on the very first lap saw a collision between the two championship contenders, who were level on points coming into the race. While Buemi was unhappy with the crash, di Grassi believed the Swiss driver braked earlier than expected for the turn.
[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]”Seb braked almost 50 metres too early compared to me and Nico, and when I realised I locked my wheels and I had the incident.”[/pullquote]
“Actually I don’t really need to talk about it, I haven’t seen the footage, but I’ve seen data in the stewards’ room. Its very clear: I had a very good start, and I knew that I had to be aggressive against Prost. […] We ended up touching a little bit, Seb braked almost 50 metres too early compared to me and Nico, and when I realised I locked my wheels and I had the incident. That was not how the first corner should have been, we should have fought for the next 33 laps.”
The Brazilian also pointed out that there was nowhere he could go in the collision, with events unfolding extremely quickly.
“The decision is made in a split second, and I was looking at Nico, and Nico was at that moment braking. When I realised that Seb slowed the car very early, I was already braking so tried to put more brake pressure and locked my wheels, but I had no control of the car any more and the incident happened.”
Both Buemi and di Grassi got going again after the collision, pitting to swap to their second cars and then both attempting to set fastest lap to gain the two points required to win the championship. Buemi ultimately managed this, an outcome that di Grassi was not happy with.
“I squeezed every hundredth out of my car, the 1:24.6 was a lap where I was less than an inch from every wall on the track, but I couldn’t do better. […] We ended up losing the championship on a fastest lap system, which is arguably good or bad, depending which side you’re on.”
There were accusations from Buemi that when both drivers were out on track trying to set fastest lap, di Grassi was trying to block him. The Brazilian denied these claims.
“I think that’s impossible: the track is so big, how can I block? […] Whatever his imagination thinks he’s doing, it was a different scenario.”
Despite the war of words between the two drivers, di Grassi praised his title rival and said the events on track should not change their relationship off it.
“Seb is a tough fighter on the track, he’s a good driver. He won the title, he should be celebrating. […] Sometimes fighting hard, accidents happen. Of course, sometimes you have bad feelings with some drivers as I did yesterday with JEV. […] But these types of race incidents happen, but they should not affect the relationships of sportsmen outside the track. […] I think in my position, he would have been aggressive as I was.”
And even though the championship did not end in the way di Grassi would have liked, he felt both he and his team got the maximum possible out of the season.
“We go back home, of course sad as we lost the championship, but heads high as we did a miracle to fight to the last race.
“I look back on this championship with no regrets whatsoever.”
Images courtesy of Rajan Jangda