Audi Sport ABT Schaffler returned from the lockdown hiatus with testing last week as Lucas di Grassi joined new team-mate Rene Rast on-track to run through the outfit’s lockdown learnings as it seeks to re-charge a title tilt.
Lucas di Grassi feels there’s a lot up in the air heading to Berlin, with teams and drivers yet to learn how Tempelhof will look for nine-day six-race showdown, with three layouts still to be announced by Formula E officials.
However, he and the team of engineers at Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler have been hard at work during lockdown to push the German squad forward, with its learnings from the first half of the season put into action at a race circuit for the first time a little over a week ago.
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“We’ve been deep into the data that we’ve acquired in the races so far to try and gain a better understanding of what needs to be done,” said the 2016/17 champion. “We’ve traced a strategy for us to work on that the engineers have been analysing painstakingly.
“We’ve had meetings during lockdown to find the best direction to go in with development and strategy and we put that into action on-track last week for the first time.
“Coronavirus has had a big impact on everything and affects not only the schedule but technically speaking for Berlin. Its usually the case we go somewhere for one race weekend on a single race track. We have to be in Berlin for six races in nine days which will stress the car and personnel involved.
“The commitments around the racing from a driver’s point of view like VIP appearances and interviews have obviously been reduced so there’s a different flow and format to everything that we have to adapt to.
“We’ll have the chance to evolve between the races and make yourself or the car better between them where normally we have one race. You ordinarily arrive, everything is brand new, you race then you go home. We have gone well in Berlin before and I think it could work in our favour.”
Di Grassi has yet to finish outside the Drivers’ standings top three in the ABB FIA Formula E Championship – and is one of a handful of drivers to have been a part of the series since its inception.
So far, 2019/20 has perhaps not been what he and Audi might have expected, with a best of second place at Diriyah for di Grassi following a disappointing 13th place finish in the opening round a day prior. Since then, he’s managed three top ten finishes, but two of those outside the top six.
As you might expect heading to Tempelhof, then, di Grassi’s eyes aren’t just on progress, but podiums and the construction of a potential title charge over the nine-day half-season that awaits in Berlin on August 5.
“There’s not really a specific way I feel I can prepare for it,” added the Brazilian. I can obviously be as physically fit as possible and that will be the case – I’ve been training hard and working hard in the gym and out running during lockdown.
"I was also eating better and travelled less, which meant less stress. So, in this way, I will arrive in Berlin more prepared than for any other race this season.
“We will do the best we can and hope for the best result. We’re in the dark as to the different layouts and what they’ll entail – so, anything from time of day to layout will all affect tire temperatures, powertrains and so on. There’s no direction and we have to be adaptable.
“There’s no real thing for it other than taking each day as it comes. We’ll aim for the best result on day one then use what learn to improve from there on in.
“It won’t be easy but we’ve made progress this year and have improved the car. If we perform at our best, I’m confident we’ll be able to fight for victories and podiums – hopefully the title – in Berlin. I won from third on the grid there last year. If we can repeat that six times, we’ll be racing for the title.”
Published on 9th July 2020