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di Grassi: An electric interview in Paris

In the lead up to the Paris E-Prix, Lucas di Grassi reflected on electric vehicles, Roborace, and Formula E in Brazil.

Brazilian driver and season four ABB Formula E champion di Grassi was the first driver to win the Paris E-Prix back in 2016 and spoke of his role with Roborace and the upcoming experimental seasons planned for the autonomous series.

The autonomous vehicles will be more and more precise, better, cheaper, and more ordinary. It’s a matter of time, offer and request, infrastructure, costs, and software for it to be embraced by the whole world.

The 34-year-old is the Roborace CEO, a company that defines itself as the world’s first competition for human + machine teams, using both self-driving and manually-controlled cars.

“The first leg of the Roborace championship will give its first steps in Spain with two dates, April, 29 and 30. Soon we’re going to release the calendar, but the first two championships will be experimental, that’s why we called them Alpha and Beta, in preparation for the first season.”

The Brazilian explained that these first experimental championships will be managed by Roborace to better understand exactly the challenges we’re going to face ahead of the first season with people.

The Audi Sport ABT Schaffler driver also commented about the chances of having a Formula E race in Brazil.

“Today I would say there is a 25% of chances to have an E-Prix because it’s a complex situation. Brazil has other priorities right now, so does the cities. It requires finding a way that it’s financially viable for an event like this to happen, making sure not to use public financing in the wrong way, you need many sponsors, it’s more complex in this particular case.

“There is a chance but it’s small at the moment for a race in Brazil to happen. The popularity of Formula E in Brazil is very small,” he added.

On that matter we asked about a publication di Grassi has made after the Rome E-Prix, commenting about a news report by a Brazilian newspaper, Estadao.

The publication entitled a race report about the Rome E-Prix saying “New Zealand’s Evans wins the Roman round and the Brazilian drivers finished in the back”.

It’s not only with me the Brazilian media doesn’t support much the Brazilian sport when it is not of their interest,” said di Grassi. “There are many Brazilian talents all over the world and not only in motorsport, tennis and other sports, and there’s little mention to it.

“The title of that article is one of many that instead of helping promote the Brazilian sport in the world, bringing people close to the sport, it’s the kind of publication where everybody loses. People read the title that Brazilians are “supporters” and they lose interest in the sport, Formula E in this case, and when it happens people will also read less news on that website regarding Formula E, so nobody wins.

“It’s something in my opinion written by a journalist in an inaccurate way, that’s why I found it very important to make it clear what my thoughts on that were.

“Brazilian media could help a lot and not only to motorsport in general, then there are complaints about not having the support of sponsors for the sportsman to begin a life in sports, about Brazil not going to the Olympics, and then complains that Brazil doesn’t have an idol, the role of the media in this process is being very bad,” he concluded.

di Grassi is currently third in the drivers overall standings, having scored 70 points, the championship leader Robin Frijns is only 11 points ahead. He is also one of the eight winners of season five, having won the fourth round this year in Mexico City. In Rome, he finished in sixth place with his Audi E-Tron FE05 Gen2 car and followed it up with a fourth place finish in Paris.

About Cecilia Demartini
Cecilia is a freelance Journalist passionate about motorsport and writing.
Her articles appeared in a variety of online publications.
Her knowledge goes from F1, F2, and F3 to other series such as MotoGP, IndyCar, Rally, WEC, and particularly Formula E.