For Earth Day 2020, former champion and Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler's Lucas di Grassi writes how the ABB FIA Formula E Championship is racing for a better future.
By Lucas di Grassi, Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler
This year, Earth Day is different and perhaps the most unusual that we have ever had. The coronavirus pandemic is causing people to suddenly experience nature as they have never seen it before. People in India can see the Himalayas for the first time in 30 years, the rivers are recovering, animals in zoos are behaving very differently, because there are no visitors. But also, people living in big polluted cities are feeling just how nature is breathing currently.
Of course, these are snapshots, but still, people are discovering what a world without that massive impact from production and mobility could feel like. This feeling makes Earth Day 2020 special. And I am sure that after this crisis, people will not only demand measures from their governments to bring their social and economic lives back to normal, but that they will also demand a rethink of the way we value nature, and will be more willing than ever to do their part.
We, the Formula E family, have been making our contribution to this rethink for some years now. I firmly believe that sustainability in our world must be based on technology and innovation. The threat of global warming is so far away for many people that they need to see a real benefit in changing their behaviour.
Electric cars meet these requirements perfectly: they are becoming cheaper and cheaper, and at the same time, more and more sustainable – a win-win situation that does not mean any restrictions in terms of our personal lives. When Alejandro Agag founded Formula E about eight years ago and brought it to life, this development was already on the horizon. That’s why I believed in it from the very beginning and seeing it today, six years later, that exactly this situation has come about: cars with combustion engines are becoming superfluous.
Our joint campaigns against air pollution, our “Race for Clean Air”, which we are supporting with Formula E and I as a UN ambassador, is of enormous importance for humanity. After all, one aspect of electro-mobility is often neglected: Vehicle emissions are harmful to our health – and they are produced directly where most women, men and children live: in our cities. This is precisely where electric cars are the best – and incidentally the only – way to protect people. Even if it requires some effort.
I am a racing driver with a passion. What makes Formula E so special for me: it’s “Racing for a Reason”. Together with Formula E and Audi, I often have the opportunity to immerse myself in other worlds, to learn and to meet people who work for a better world in their field. A trip to India, in cooperation with the United Nations, has opened my eyes to the concerns, but also to the innovative power of these people. Or a visit to the world’s largest solar energy complex before our race in Marrakesh: it was overwhelming to see how a country that was completely dependent on importing fossil fuels is changing and is now a pioneer of great technologies.
Much achieved, much more ahead of us. As we look head to the future of Formula E, I hope that the series will continue to be a leader in new technologies and innovations. This applies to the electrification of the powertrain, which must always remain relevant for commercial production, as well as for new concepts that will be integrating fans even more into Formula E. They should become part of this digital platform, on and off the track. Wherever we go, we want to show people that electric cars are fast, they are dynamic, they are sexy, they are available – and they are the best way to show future generations a different world, not only in months like these.