Last season's FIA Formula E title contender Lucas di Grassi believes that his Abt Audi team have made a “a step forward” with its season-two contender, as the first group test kicked off at Donington Park on Monday.
Ex-F1 racer di Grassi was just 0.063s off pacesetter Sebastien Buemi of Renault e.dams in the opening day of group testing, and believes that a strong off-season developing a new powertrain for the German car is paying dividends.
The team’s new machine, called the ABT Schaeffler FE01, has been running since June 11, and has previously tested in southern Germany and Hungary.
“We’ve been testing in three different venues, and clearly our car has made a step forward with a new motor, gearbox and suspension,” di Grassi told Motorsport.com. “The car has really improved, we can see that, and we’re confident we’ve done a fantastic job in the summer.
“At Donington we’re concentrating on setup work, because let’s say all the mechanical hardware work has been done. We are confident the car is now ready to race.”
Hoping competition level remains high
With the FIA opening up its rules to allow powertrains built by different manufacturers, di Grassi hopes that Formula E’s nature of close racing will not vanish in season two as more new technology arrives.
“The more manufacturers we have, the better it is,” he said. “Of course, the FIA must regulate the new manufacturers in a way that technology is able to be developed so the manufacturers are happy.
“But, at the same time, it must not follow the same route as Formula 1 with the massive discrepancy between teams. It should be close, it should be as competitive as season one, so it’s fun to watch and fun for us to fight each other with very-close equipment.”
Brazil “deserves Formula E” and vice versa
With three frontrunning Brazilian drivers in the series, di Grassi also hopes that Formula E will one day race in his home country.
“It’s a real shame as we have myself, Piquet and Senna but no race in Brazil,” said di Grassi. “It would be amazing to have a race here. Actually, Rio was the first race that we announced, back in 2013 – Rio was very into it. Then, for some reason, it didn’t happen.
“With the economic situation at the moment, I think it would be very difficult to have a race here at the moment. But our efforts won’t stop here.
“We have to find a solution and I know there are people working on this, either in Rio or Sao Paulo. I think Formula E deserves a race in Brazil, and Brazil deserves a Formula E race.”
Interview by Felipe Motta