Restless Driver: Lucas di Grassi

Ambitious, committed, determined: that’s how Lucas die Grassi became the most successful racing driver in Formula E. But, the Audi factory driver is not only a pioneer for the electrification of mobility in the cockpit. As an entrepreneur, di Grassi accelerates forward-looking e-technologies; as a UN ambassador for clean air, he promotes innovative environmental protection. In his native Brazil, the Formula E champion supports projects to protect against Covid-19 and is organising a new environmental conference in Latin America.

05/22/2020 Reading Time: 5 min

Lucas di Grassi
I firmly believe that sustainability in our world must be based on technology and innovation.

Lucas di Grassi

Lucas di Grassi

Motorsport champion with e-mission

Lucas di Grassi has been driving for the Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler team since the Formula E electric racing series was founded in 2014. The Brazilian, born in São Paulo in 1984, even co-founded the first international series for racing cars with fully electric drive. And the Audi factory driver has shaped it like no other driver so far: winner of the very first Formula E race, drivers’ champion of the 2016/2017 season and teams’ champion in 2017/2018 (together with Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler).

Meanwhile, di Grassi has become the world’s best-known face of Formula E, its most popular public relations officer and internationally recognized pioneer of automotive electrification and the transformation of mobility. “The threat of global warming is so far away for many people that they need to see a real benefit in changing their behaviour,” says Lucas di Grassi.

That’s why, together with his employer Audi, he is making even more intensive use of the platform of the Formula E electric racing series, which is in its sixth season and held in the middle of metropolises around the world. In addition to the race track, di Grassi and Audi are increasingly drawing attention to the topics of electric mobility, sustainability, innovation and environmental conservation. In line with the joint mission statement “Racing for a reason” and the Audi Roadmap E with its goal of 30 electrified road car models by 2025, they use each Formula E event to visit pioneering projects and start-ups in the region.

Take Mexico City as an example: There, in mid-February 2020, Lucas di Grassi and Daniel Abt, who has been di Grassi’s teammate at Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler since the founding of Formula E, explored the company BiomiTech. The young technology company in Mexico’s capital has developed an artificial tree called the BioUrban 2.0, which uses the principle of photosynthesis to break down 368 times more CO2 than a natural tree.

Lucas di Grassi

Before the following Formula E round, Lucas di Grassi makes a short stopover at the International Film Festival in Berlin. “The show must go green” is the motto of his discussion in the German capital about ideas, technologies and visions for a more sustainable future. In 2020, Audi was the main sponsor of the Berlinale event for the seventh time.

Lucas di Grassi then visited the world’s largest concentrated solar power plant at the end of February 2020 in the run-up to the Moroccan Formula E race in Marrakesh. The Noor Power Station is located 200 kilometres south of the North African metropolis. “This trend-setting plant generates twice as much electrical energy per day as what is needed in Marrakech, from the sunlight it concentrates. Or enough to charge a Formula E car, like my all-electric Audi e-tron FE06, an unimaginable 34 million times,” di Grassi is impressed to note.

Lucas di Grassi
Lucas di Grassi

United Nations ambassador for the environment

But, Lucas di Grassi is not only committed to the global change towards electric mobility. Since 2018, the Brazilian has been an official ambassador for clean air of the United Nations (UN). Since then, the family man living in Monaco has gone beyond automotive engineering and even more frequently on the road to create new awareness for the protection of the environment and climate and to promote ever more far-reaching technical progress to protect the earth.

Di Grassi attracted particular attention at the end of 2019 with the documentary film “The Race For Clean Air”, filmed in New Delhi. “The idea behind the New Delhi project is not to point the finger at what India is doing wrong, but to raise the idea that if solutions for better environmental protection are found and applied in New Delhi, it can be done everywhere,” explains di Grassi. The Indian capital New Delhi is the second largest city in the world after Tokyo (almost 29 million inhabitants) and the one with the highest air pollution.

“If we can understand the worst-case scenario, then implementation is easier,” concludes Lucas di Grassi. “In terms of air pollution, there is not one item that is like a magic pill that can be applied. For each country, it needs to be implemented in a way that the social economic value aggregates to them.”

“Special earth day.”

Lucas di Grassi

After giving a short keynote speech in his role as an UN environmental ambassador at the Climate Week in New York, Lucas di Grassi also took the floor on “Earth Day,” on 22 April 2020, which has been held annually since 1970. Under the impression of the Covid-19 pandemic, the former Formula E champion writes on Twitter: “Special Earth Day. People are feeling a deep change in air pollution due to the current crisis. Let’s use this as a catalyst of change for a much cleaner, better future for humankind.”

Lucas di Grassi

Pioneer for sustainability in Brazil

More environmental conservation and more sustainable use of resources, that is what Lucas di Grassi is particularly concerned about for his home country Brazil. That is why he is working there more and more intensively for more awareness in dealing with nature and further progress in order to preserve it. As one of the most successful racing drivers in the traditional motorsport nation of Brazil, Lucas di Grassi knows about his great influence on his fellow countrymen.

That is why he founded the Zero Summit in his birthplace São Paulo – the first congress in Latin America dedicated to technologies and ideas that ensure CO2 neutrality. Audi will also be present at the premiere planned for later this year. “As a premium manufacturer, Audi will use the Zero Summit to launch the Audi e-tron Sportback* in Brazil, among other things,” says Lucas di Grassi. He received the inspiration for such an environmental meeting in Berlin in 2019 – at the premiere of the Greentech Festival of former Formula 1 world champion Nico Rosberg.

“You are a great inspiration for me”, says di Grassi in April 2020 in Nico Rosberg’s new YouTube video series #Leaders4Good. Since his retirement as a racing driver, the German has also been a strong advocate of climate-neutral mobility and is now also a partner in the Formula E organisation. The two motorsport champions are neighbours in Monaco and were once rivals in Formula 1.

Audi e-tron Sportback: Power consumption, combined*: 24–20.9 kWh/100km (NEDC); 25.9–21.1 kWh/100km (WLTP)CO₂ emissions, combined*: 0 g/km

Audi e-tron Sportback: Power consumption, combined*: 24–20.9 kWh/100km (NEDC); 25.9–21.1 kWh/100km (WLTP)CO₂ emissions, combined*: 0 g/km

Lucas di Grassi

Nico Rosberg is particularly interested in how Lucas di Grassi is helping Brazil during the Covid-19 pandemic. In three projects, di Grassi spontaneously became active in his home country, where he returned to with his wife Bianca and son Leonardo during the interruption of the Formula E season:

1. He collects money for better hygiene protection in public retirement homes.

2. He supports an entrepreneur who uses his one hundred 3D printers to produce protective masks instead of shoe soles.

3. And he is committed to the alternative, time-saving disinfection of buses and trains using UV rays instead of chemicals.

Lucas di Grassi started another project before and independently of the Covid-19 pandemic: “I bought one hectare of rainforest in Brazil that had been completely cleared before. Now I’m helping to reforest it.” His main idea is to effectively compensate for the many flights that his profession as an internationally active racing driver requires. “Last year, I flew 154 flights. One hectare is enough to compensate for 500 flights,” says di Grassi.

di Grassi

Lucas di Grassi
Lucas di Grassi
Lucas di Grassi

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