Di Grassi talking to two Formula E teams about post-Audi seat - The Race
Formula E

Di Grassi talking to two Formula E teams about post-Audi seat

Feb 22 2021
By Sam Smith

Lucas di Grassi has already held detailed discussion with rival teams to scope out his driving options after Audi stops its Formula E programme this summer.

The 2016/17 series champion has driven in every Formula E season so far for what’s currently Audi’s factory team but was initially entered by the Abt Sportsline organisation.

Audi announced it was leaving Formula E last November, just before official testing for the series’ first season as an official world championship.

It has chosen to focus on returning to the Le Mans 24 Hours and top level endurance racing under the hybrid-based LMDh rules and an electric Dakar Rally programme.

Di Grassi would therefore have to find a new team if he wants to continue in Formula E beyond the upcoming season, which starts in Diriyah this weekend.

He told The Race that he currently has “proposals on the table from at least two teams” and has “begun conversations already”.

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But he underlined that he would only continue in Formula E if he could secure a competitive drive that enabled him to challenge for titles.

“I will not decide anything very soon and I would only continue in Formula E if it’s something with which I see I can win races and championships,” di Grassi told The Race.

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“It’s not a financial decision for me. I mean, it’s good to earn money and to make money but my [financial] decision will ultimately be minor should I change to a team that will give me a good car that I can fight for wins and championships in the future.

“If that’s not the case, I also don’t have any problem stopping racing at all and focusing on other things like Jerome [d’Ambrosio, now Venturi team principal] did or focus on my other projects.”

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With Sam Bird’s move from Envision Virgin to Jaguar for 2021, only di Grassi and sometime arch-rival Sebastien Buemi are still with the teams they’ve driven for since the start of Formula E – and Buemi’s e.dams-run squad has transformed from Renault to Nissan during that time.

Up until last season’s truncated campaign, di Grassi had not finished outside the top three in the final points standings of a Formula E championship.

The 36-year-old has 10 E-Prix victories to his name and has scored the most amount of podium positions in the championship’s 69 race history with a total of 32.

Last season was also the first campaign in which he didn’t take a win, as Audi struggled to match its competitors for efficiency during races.

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Now di Grassi believes he will be able to enjoy a successful 2021 season with the new Audi e-tron FE07, which is the first car it has made completely using in-house resources.

“At the moment, I have a good car this year, I will focus on trying to win as many races as I can and hopefully the championship,” said di Grassi.

“I will try to find a team which gives me a good project to work on for the future and then I will stay in Formula E, that should be my number one [goal].

“Then when Audi decides what they want to do with the LMDh programme, it also could be a good option to talk to them (di Grassi raced Audi’s sportscars 2012-16, pictured below) but for me there is no hurry.”

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Audi is understood to have almost completed the sale of its entry for the 2021/22 season.

Unlike the BMW Andretti slot – which is also in a state of flux due to BMW’s upcoming exit – Audi’s actual team entry is held by the manufacturer rather than its partner team.

It is understood that the Abt concern is in negotiation to potentially run the team, but is unlikely to be part of the ownership structure.

In addition to discussing his future as a driver, di Grassi also said that transitioning into a management role is not a short-term objective, although he does envisage himself in such as a position if the right opportunity arises.

“Not now, in the long term maybe, depending on a lot of factors, but not in the next few years,” he said.

“Saying that, of course, again, if I’m given the right opportunity, I will consider pretty much everything that I find exciting.”

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