A conversation with Lucas Di Grassi

Motorsport.com sit's down with Lucas Di Grassi and talks electric race cars, 360° cameras and torque, in a two part update with the former Formula One pilot

Lucas Di Grassi is excited for the upcoming Formula E season. You can hear it in his enthusiasm.

Being one of the principal hires at the start of the Formula E project, Lucas Di Grassi will drive in the series for Audi Sport Team Abt, the same team who will field his LMP car in the WEC.

As with any start up series, a firm focus on a solid business model that doesn't cost teams, and more importantly, drivers money to participate is key, and according to di Grassi, Formula E has nailed it.

"The main point of any series is the business model. The series has to be financial viable for the teams, financially viable for the organization, the cities have to profit, it has to be interesting for manufacturers to join, manufacturers who have cutting edge technology," di Grassi said.

"The main fact is to be commercially healthy. We see a lot of championships today with lots of pay drivers, or downsizing to cut costs."

While the 29-year-old Brazilian has experience wheeling around a powerful open wheel car, he said there will be a lot to learn in June, when Formula E hits the pavement at Donington for it's first official test.

Test driver Lucas di Grassi, Alejandro Agag, CEO, Formula E Holdings, Formula E Los Angeles presentation
Test driver Lucas di Grassi, Alejandro Agag, CEO, Formula E Holdings, Formula E Los Angeles presentation

Photo by: FIA Formula E

"The electric motor has a very different torque output than a conventional combustion engine. The torque is instantaneous. That has a big implication on acceleration. It goes out of the corner very quickly," he said.

"The electric motor is the future of transportation, and racing. Because there is a limit amount of energy, your driving style has to be efficient. It’s more or less like WEC and F1, you have to be quick but you have to be energy efficient."

The CEO of Formula E Holdings Alejandro Agag, in an interview with Motorsport.com said the series plans to deliver it's racing product to fans using a multitude of mediums, from television to apps on your iPad. Most recently, Motorsport.com has developed a new 360° camera that will be outfitted to every car. Those feeds will be sent through an app to anyone in the world hoping to catch the race.

"We are much more connected, we want live data, more interactivity. You want to be a part of the game, you want to choose which car you wanna watch. Some categories are very old fashioned style on transmitting only TV media, very regulated. Formula E has the completely opposite approach. You almost have open source data that people can watch on each car," di Grassi said.

You will have the 360° camera from Motorsport.com, I mean everyone from any part of the world can access it and see whatever car they want at any given time. We are adapting motorsport to our high speed world."

360 Lab testing its system during the Formula E reveal at Las Vegas CES 2014
360 Lab testing its system during the Formula E reveal at Las Vegas CES 2014

Photo by: Motorsport.com

While the first season will see a spec car handed to each entrant, di Grassi said he expects the "failure is not an option" attitude of Audi Sport will shine through even though the car is not technically theirs.

"The Championships that Audi are currently involved in, they are using their own cars," said di Grassi.

"Audi comes to win in everything they do. They are very serious about motorsports. It wont be any different in Formula E. If we are not successful at the beginning, and we will change and work harder to become successful. Failure is not an option in the medium term."

Stay tuned for part two of our interview with Lucas di Grassi, where he talks more about Formula E, but also how he plans to fill the shoes of Allan McNish in the Audi Sport #1 in the WEC.

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Series FORMULA-E
Article type Special feature
Tags beijing, china, formula e, formula one, las angels, london, lucas di grassi, motorsport.com, paris