Mahindra Racing’s Lucas di Grassi believes this weekend’s Sao Paulo E-Prix marks a significant moment in his country’s motorsport history ahead of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship’s Brazilian debut on Saturday.
This weekend will complete a hat-trick of new host cities for Formula E following the Hyderabad E-Prix on 11 February and the dramatic Cape Town E-Prix on 25 February, which featured the fastest lap in Formula E history.
Brazil itself has a rich motorsport history and has produced a long line of drivers from Ayrton Senna to Felipe Massa, the latter of which competed in Formula E for two years from 2018-2020 with Venturi.
Season 3 champion Di Grassi joins Sergio Sette Camara (NIO 333) as the latest crop of drivers from the country to line-up on the Formula E grid.
And speaking ahead of the weekend, the 38-year-old, who has featured in every Formula E race since the series’ inception, expressed his excitement at having the opportunity to race in his home city and believes that it will only grow the series’ already loyal following in the country.
“I cannot be more excited to have a race here in Brazil,” he said. “It’s been a long journey to make the race happen, but it is exciting to finally be in Sao Paulo.
“Brazil has a long tradition of motorsport heritage especially because of Fittipaldi, Piquet and Senna winning championships in Formula 1. And the way Senna died and how influential he was, it created a big legacy.
“But since then we have had important racers like Barrichello, Massa, Castroneves in IndyCar and other Formula E drivers like myself, Bruno Senna, Felipe Massa.
“Formula E is the only racing series at the moment that we have Brazilians competing in a worldwide championship and we have champions.”
Sao Paulo is already a key market for electric vehicles and in 2022 Brazil surpassed 100,000 EVs on the road, which included a 66% increase between 2019-2020.
It means it is a perfect time for the all-electric racing series to debut in the country, and indeed 35,000 fans are expected in attendance at the Sambadrome to get a first taste of the planet’s favourite motorsport.
Lucas di Grassi
Image credit: Eurosport
Di Grassi himself is expecting a significant contingent to cheer him on, as he explains. “Everything is sold out,” he continued. “I receive like 10 WhatsApps a day of people wanting to come to the race – I have personally more than 100 guests coming! It is going to be big.
“I think the race here will help people to understand better about Formula E, definitely. For people to admire something, they need to understand it a bit. I have zero knowledge of cricket, I have never played it in my life – so it’s very hard for me to appreciate what is a good throw, what is not a good throw.
“The more people understand Formula E, it will help them to be more hooked and watch more, and the more you watch the more you understand. It definitely will help.
“Brazil is a 250 million people market where electric cars are going to be sold more and more. Our energy matrix is already mostly renewable, which makes Brazil probably the most sustainable country in the world with two thirds of our land protected by law, so you cannot touch two thirds of the land.
“And with the matrix being 80% renewable, Brazil has everything to adopt electric mobility, and Formula E hopefully is the voice, the breakthrough and the platform that will allow this to accelerate a little bit more.”
Located in the Santana district, the birthplace of Senna, the race is set to play out another feast of wheel-to-wheel racing in front of a passionate fan base. The 2.94km track at the Sambadrome features three long straights, a series of tight turns and challenging chicanes. It is also located close to the Anhembi Convention Center, one of the largest events complexes in Latin America.
Lucas di Grassi
Image credit: Eurosport
“The track is going to be really good,” Di Grassi said. “If the weather holds, the racing is going to be really exciting. People like an exciting race because the cars are fast. I think it has all the key ingredients to be a very good weekend.
“It would be very special [to win in Sao Paulo]. I think every race you try to win is very special in the end regardless, but of course, when you have friends and family around, it’s extra special.”
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