Lucas di Grassi hails 'best ever' Formula E win
Di Grassi now second in drivers' championship
Formula E returns for Monaco ePrix in May
It was a race to remember – not just for the victor Lucas di Grassi but for Formula E as a sport.
Down and all but out of the Mexico City ePrix, di Grassi came back to claim an improbable win in one of the most thrilling races in the all-electric series’ short history.
“The race at Mexico showed what Formula E is all about, on track and around the racing itself,” di Grassi told CNN’s Supercharged show.
“Formula E has a great momentum right now and I am sure it has a great future ahead.”
Starting from 15th on the grid, di Grassi’s task was made ever harder when he was forced to pit early for repairs after suffering rear wing damage on lap one.
Returning to the track in last place, the Brazilian rolled the dice with an early switch of cars on lap 17 of the 45-lap race to leapfrog the field – current battery technology means all drivers change cars mid-race.
The move risked him running out of energy before the end of the race, but di Grassi clung on to notch the fifth win of his Formula E career.
“This race, especially the second stint when I had much less energy per lap than my competitors, was the best of my Formula E career so far,” di Grassi said.
“Formula E is not only about racing and fighting on track, you need a perfect team behind you that does all the calculations and takes the right decisions.
“As a driver you have to adapt your driving style and strategy to the amount of energy you have available.”
’90% frustration and 10% happiness’
The 32-year-old’s triumph has reignited the battle for the drivers’ title with arch rival Sebastien Buemi.
The Renault eDams driver won the first three races of the season but di Grassi’s victory reduces his arrears to five points in the drivers’ championship.
The win was all the sweeter given the Brazilian’s travails at the same track 12 months earlier.
Di Grassi had celebrated atop the podium at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez only to be disqualified later after his car was found to be marginally underweight.
“The worst feeling ever is when you win a race and afterwards someone comes up to you and says we have a problem,” he says.
“And when the problem is a very clear weight measurement there’s not much you can do.”
That loss of 25 points ultimately cost di Grassi the 2015/16 drivers’ title which Buemi won by just two points.
“Racing is 90% frustration and 10% happiness – it’s a very tough sport,” says di Grassi. “One person wins, 19 others lose, but we are kind of used to that.”
Di Grassi, who features on April’s edition of Supercharged, can’t wait for the racing to resume at next month’s Monaco ePrix.
“We will go there and try to get some more champagne,” he says.
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“Although the points gap got a little closer after Mexico we must not forget that the Renault cars are the ones to beat. But we have shown again that we never give up and are ready to attack whenever we see the smallest chance.”
Supercharged’s April show, which features di Grassi, Esteban Gutierrez, Mexico ePrix highlights and more, premieres on Saturday April 8 at 1930 GMT on CNN International