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Formula E

What next for a Formula E great trapped in the midfield?

by Sam Smith, Alice Holloway
4 min read

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Lucas di Grassi looks set to stay with the Mahindra team for a second season in 2024 despite his least competitive season in almost a decade of racing in Formula E.

The 2016/17 champion joined Mahindra last summer after a single season with the Venturi squad with which he won the second London E-Prix last July.

He is believed to have a two-year deal with options for a third at Mahindra, which has struggled with a difficult Gen3 car of its own design through the vast majority of this season.

The Brazilian is known to have explored options for ending his relationship with Mahindra early but hinted to The Race this week that he would be in the same cockpit for 2024.

“I signed a long-term contract with Mahindra last year and I still have the contract,” di Grassi said.

“So, it will depend on a lot of different factors, but at the moment the situation hasn’t changed significantly.”

Di Grassi alluded to a host of parameters for giving assurance that he is right to stay with the British-based, Indian constructor.

He listed “the quality of the powertrain, [Team boss] Fred [Bertrand] scheduling a revamping of the team” and is confident that sufficient changes are possible for 2024.

“I don’t know exactly what should be done in season 11, but I know next season already there is some stuff that can be done but it’s the same homologation,” di Grassi added.

Di Grassi has been linked to a possible return to his old team Abt in the future but the former Audi works squad – one of FE’s very first teams – has to run a customer Mahindra M9Electro again next season thanks to the fixed two-season homologation cycle.

While a seat is available at Abt Cupra after Robin Frijns agreed to rejoin the Envision Racing squad recently, it seems unlikely di Grassi would take it immediately.

More likely is a potential move in the summer of 2024 when Abt Cupra is expected to change manufacturer.

It has held talks with Porsche recently, with which it has links via its extensive automotive and tuning work with the VW Group and the fact that Cupra is a sister brand within the VW structure.

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Although Porsche currently supplies Avalanche Andretti with a Gen3 car, manufacturers in Formula E are able to supply more than one customer team should they agree on deals.

Speaking to The Race about the future of the team in Formula E, Abt CEO Thomas Biermeier said that “first we have a contract with Mahindra and we have to speak with them and want to know what they can do for the next seasons, what their plans of development are.

“Then we will see, but we are always looking for options because if you’re not looking for options, you won’t do a good job.”

When asked about the possibility of racing for Abt again, di Grassi said that he was “not 100% sure what Abt is doing, what the other teams are doing, if there are any manufacturers joining or teams changing structure”.

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“For 2025 I will look at the best options available, the combination of different things but also the car and then make my decision in the middle of next season,” he added.

Di Grassi, who will turn 40 next year, says that he is intent on racing into his fifth decade, explaining that in managing his career he works “to focus on the short term of maximising the stuff I have around me.

“In the long term, I try to make sure that I have the tools, people, budget, equipment and everything necessary to achieve the goal which is to win the championship,” he continued.

“The way I’ve worked in my career is, regardless of where I am, I always try to get better and try to improve. I do the same and I give my suggestions.

“For me, if the team is aligned with that goal, if the team is pushing towards exactly the same goal, it’s great.

“If the team, some teams or some people are not aligned with that goal, they have different goals… maybe there is some budget restriction, maybe there are some different forms of viewing something, maybe the target is not one year, it’s four years, it depends.

“Sometimes they are taken, sometimes they are not taken, but this is how I behave in this environment, or that’s how I find my motivation.

“It’s very easy to focus on the result and then kind of give up or not push enough but that doesn’t work for me.

“I’ve always kind of tried to be consistent in the way I work and the way I push things forward, regardless of if I’m winning or 14th, 15th in the championship.”

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Di Grassi has previously made no secret of the fact that he would like to go into a management role of some kind in the near future, ideally within Formula E. He is believed to have a team leadership option of some kind at Mahindra, but this was signed prior to Bertrand coming into the team last autumn.

“My goal is, when I stop driving, write a book and other stuff, but I would love to stay connected with Formula E and help to bring Formula E to the next level,” said di Grassi.

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