After three years of trying, Lucas Di Grassi finally clinched the Formula E championship in Montreal. Andrea Perilli goes back and tells the story of Di Grassi journey to Formula E champion.
The 32-year old has been heavily involved in each championship decider over Formula E three season’s, but the Brazilian lost out to Nelson Piquet Jr and Sebastien Buemi. However, the third season was finally the year that Di Grassi achieved his goal as we take a deeper look into how Di Grassi secured his championship. It all started on Saturday 13th September 2014. The day the seismic shift in motorsport occurred. Although, nobody had realised it yet.
Season One Formula E kicked off its first ever season in Beijing with an eventful race which saw Di Grassi win the inaugural race in the all electric single-seater championship. That win in Beijing not only marked the start of a fruitful journey for or the championship, but also for the Brazilian himself. During the series’ first season, the Brazilian made it to the top step of the podium twice. However, it was not all plain sailing for Di Grassi, as the Brazilian was disqualified from the Berlin ePrix costing him 25 points. That disqualification cost Di Grassi dearly, as he missed out on winning the championship by ten points to Nelson Piquet Jr. Season Two Going into season two. Di Grassi obtained his second victory in the streets of Malaysia, with a performance that very much stated that the ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport driver was here to fight for the title once again. Again Di Grassi had a flawless season. He made fewer mistakes, looked more aggressive on the track, and had strong comebacks. However, another disqualification from a race winning position in Mexico let the Brazilian down. But he did not let that faze him as he went on to win the following the round in Long Beach. Going into the final weekend of the season in London, Di Grassi came into the weekend one point clear of Sebastien Buemi. Di Grassi was able to extend his championship lead by a two points going into Sunday’s championship decider. However, Buemi secured pole position for the ePrix and with it three points to put the Swiss driver level on points as the lights went out. Then drama. As the drivers headed towards the first corner, Di Grassi who started in third hit Buemi causing both drivers to crash out from the race. However, both drivers were able to make it back to the pits, which saw a battle for fastest lap. But it was Buemi who managed to secure the fastest lap and the championship. Season Three Season three brought many changes to the category: the cars’ design was new, and the grid was shaken up. Di Grassi had an eventful qualifying in Hong Kong and qualified in 19th place. However, a safety car dramatically changed Di Grassi’s race which allowed the Brazilian to finish in second place behind Buemi. The second round in Marrakesh was not one to remember for Di Grassi. He started the race from P12 but was only able to move up to the fifth. After three months, the action restarted in Buenos Aires. Di Grassi secured his first ever Formula E pole position. Despite starting from the front, Di Grassi was unable to win the race as he dropped to third. The Mexico City ePrix was another tough race for Di Grassi. As a collision at the start of the race saw Di Grassi pit to get his car fixed. However, the German team took advantage of another safety car period which promoted Di Grassi to the lead of the race. The 32-year old was able to see off the rest of the competition to win in Mexico. With Buemi winning the Monaco and Paris ePrix. The championship was beginning to look unlikely for Di Grassi. However, the Brazilian gave himself a lifeline by winning in Berlin and finishing on the podium in both races. Buemi was forced to miss the double header in New York, which meant Di Grassi was able to try and claw back 32 points before the season finale in Montreal. New York wasn’t an incredible success for Di Grassi, but he did manage to take away 22 points from Buemi’s lead to make it a ten point difference going into the final race weekend of the season in Montreal. If there is something that characterises Formula E, is its nail-biting way of finishing the championships. Di Grassi looked more motivated than ever and took every single advantage that landed towards him. Such motivation saw Di Grassi win his first race in season three on Saturday, while Buemi finished in fifth place, but was disqualified for having an underweight car which gave Di Grassi an eight point lead in the championship going into the final race. Buemi needed a strong qualifying performance, but it didn’t happen, as he started the race from 13th place. The Swiss driver was hoping to make up some ground on Di Grassi. However, the Renault e.Dams driver suffered damaged in the first lap which forced Buemi into the pitlane and handed the championship to Di Grassi who finished in seventh place. That was more than enough for Di Grassi to become champion and become the third different championship winner out of three seasons.