Sunday, February 5, 2023

Lucas di Grassi: What’s needed is more Latino pilots

  • Lucas di Grassi will return to Mexico on 14 January to drive Formula E’s Mexico City E-Prix.
  • The Brazilian is one of only two current Formula E drivers who were born in Latin America and drive under the flag of a country in the region.
  • According to Mahindra Pilote, the area needs more economic development and investment in infrastructure for more Latino pilots.
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Brazilian driver Lucas di Grassi will return to the CDMX on 14 January to drive the Mexico City E-Prix, a race that will mark the start of Formula E’s ninth season and the debut of the third generation of electric single-seaters (Gen3).

Di Grassi will race with Mahindra Racing this year and has great memories in our country, including three victories (two at the Hermanos Rodríguez Autodrom and one at the Miguel E. Abed Autodrom in Puebla).

The 38-year-old driver was the first to join the FIA ​​electric category, won the first e-Prix, winning the title in his third season, making him one of the few athletes to have raced in every campaign of the series. Furthermore, he ended the previous season as the first to score over 1,000 global points.

Lucas Degrassi
Credit: ABB Formula E

Lucas di Grassi is one of two drivers on the current Formula E grid who were born in Latin America and race under the flag of one of the countries in the region. The other is his compatriot Sergio Sete Camara, who will compete for the NIO 333 team this year.

The ninth season of the World Electric Championship will also see the arrival of Sacha Fenestraz at Nissan. The 23-year-old pilot was born in France and flies that country’s flag, but is an “honorary Latin American” because his family moved to Cordoba, Argentina, when he was only six months old and began his career there. .

In eight Formula E seasons, only nine Latin American drivers have competed: six Brazilians (Di Grassi, Sete Camara, Nelson Piquet Jr., Bruno Senna, Felipe Massa and Felipe Nasr), two Mexicans (Salvador Durán and Esteban Gutiérrez), one Argentine ( Jose) Maria “Pechito” Lopez). This figure is small if one takes into account that on an average 20 fixed seats are available in each campaign.

More economic development is needed for more Latin American drivers to compete in the championship.

During a round table for the Mexico City E-Prix 2023, in which Business Insider Mexico In attendance, Lucas di Grassi assured that what is needed for a greater presence of Latinos in Formula E and other categories is greater economic development in the region.

“Motor racing is an expensive sport. So if you look at the sport, how do you get to the top? You get to the top because you have a huge base.” “Then on that basis, if you have the right infrastructure and the right training in Latin America, you have good people at the top.”

In single-seater categories—such as F1, Formula E, Indy Cars and Japanese Super Formula—about 80 seats are available, according to the Brazilian, with the roughly 80,000 Latinos who start careers in motorsport aspire. The chances of getting a seat may be one in 1,000.

“So we definitely need better economic growth. It’s not good that Argentina, Venezuela and Colombia are in financial chaos. Brazil is now going into financial chaos as well. It doesn’t help,” he said.

If Latin America wants to shine in motorsport, it needs to invest in infrastructure too

Lucas di Grassi shared in the roundtable that in order for more Latin Americans to compete in single-seater categories, it is necessary to invest in infrastructure.

This includes building more race tracks, more incentives for athletes, and “democratizing motorsport a little more”.

“I think electric can do it. We can make electric motorsport affordable.’

The Brazilian has also done its bit by setting up the eScooter Championship, an electric scooter racing series with its first season due in 2022.

“We did the electric scooter championship because it is cheaper than other forms of motorsport. You can become a professional athlete without spending so much money.

According to the Mahindra driver, the cost of training a boy to become an F1 or F2 champion could be up to $10 million, from the start and to help prepare him to compete in these cars.

Lucas Degrassi
Credit: ABB Formula E

“You need companies that support the infrastructure. You need a lot. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look very favorable in the near future,” he said.

“We have good talent along the way and we have support. Some of them come to Europe. Others have money. We see, for example, with ‘Checo’ Perez. Had it not been for Carlos Slim’s help, he wouldn’t have gotten there.”

Pérez currently drives for Red Bull Racing and is the Mexican driver with the most wins (four) and podiums (26) in F1 history. El Guadalajara met Carlos Slim Helu, Mexico’s richest man, in 1997. In 2002, his son, Carlos Slim Domit, founded Escuderia Telmex and three years later, “Checo” began his career in Europe with his support.

The Mexican fulfilled his dream of reaching F1 in 2011 and since then, he has been sponsored by Slim-owned brands such as Telcel and Claro.

Escuderia Telmex has also fostered the careers of other Latin American drivers, such as Esteban Gutiérrez, Pato O’Vard, Daniel Suárez, Pietro Fittipaldi, Benito Guerra, Pancho Nam and

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