Formula E is heading to Sao Paulo from Season 9, with the Brazilian city, steeped in motorsport heritage, set to welcome the all-electric championship to the legendary Sambadrome.
Sergio Sette Camara and Lucas di Grassi were on-hand to show off the plans for the series' inaugural trip to Brazil, and a return to South America, in front of media and fans last week - a nice break, says Sette Camara, who has been and will continue to be flat out following an off-season move to NIO 333 and with testing, Gen3 and the Mexico City season-opener just on the horizon.
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"Change is always exciting," says the Belo Horizonte-born racer. "It’s an all-new car and Gen3 is properly exciting. It’s a big step forward after four years and we have a big jump in terms of the tech, power – everything. I’ve already driven the car and it met my expectations.
"I was obviously expecting a jump in power and that’s been the biggest thing. There are a lot of technical advances but they mostly don’t affect the joy of driving – that comes with increasing grip, downforce and power as well as things like new tyres and the weight of the car (which is smaller and lighter in Gen3).
"We’ve got 350kW now instead of 250kW and it’s such a big change. With the weight reduction plus that power, the step’s even bigger. I haven’t driven it on a street circuit yet but the car will be wild at places like Rome with all the elevation changes – I’m really looking forward to it, it’ll be exciting."
"Then there’s the race in Brazil. A home race, in Sao Paulo will be beautiful. Racing in Sao Paulo makes this season even more special. There is nothing like competing at home with your fans cheering you on. It’s going to be incredible!”
On that move to NIO 333, Sette Camara says it can be harder than it appears from the outside. Relationships built at a previous outfit come to an end and new ways of working and understanding must be found. It's a tight turnaround to testing in Valencia in mid-December, and the 24-year old is focussing everything on getting his feet under the table as quickly as possible.
"I’m with a new team, so we’ve new working relationships and that change is always a big challenge. I think people can underestimate it. When you’re with a team, you don’t even need to think about it – everybody has an understanding. That’s one I’ll pay most attention to. If you don’t do it well, you can really compromise results.
"This off-season hasn’t been as relaxed as the previous one as we had no testing time available. This season, we’re focussing everything on the preparation of the new car. I’ve taken this opportunity (at the Sao Paulo launch) to have a week and a half back home in Brazil to see my family and be there to launch the Sao Paulo race to the fans and the media.
"There won’t be too much chance for a break for us after this as we’re testing in Valencia in the middle of December. Then, we have Christmas and New Year’s then right away on the second or third of January, I’ll be back in the factory on the simulator. We’re then racing in Mexico!"
Lucas di Grassi's looking forward to racing on home soil
'A dream come true'
Lucas di Grassi has long been an advocate for Formula E to make a first foray into Brazil. It's a country that loves its leading sportsman, and has a strong relationship with motorsport. The Sao Paulo native couldn't be more excited to ring in Gen3 and a new era in front of his home support.
“I can’t wait to race in Sao Paulo in March, thanks for Formula E and Sao Paulo City Council for making this vision come to life," says the 38-year-old Formula E centurian - off the back of his 100th race in the Seoul Season 8 finale which saw him become the only driver yet to reach such a milestone.
"It's been a dream since the first Formula E race for me, back in 2013. It has been close a couple of times and hasn’t quite happened but after 10 years of hard work and persistence it’s finally happening in Season 9 and for the start of Gen3 – it’s very emotional for me to be racing there. I’m from Sao Paulo, I was born just a few minutes away and grew up there. It’s going to be amazing racing in front of my home fans.
"The circuit at the Sambadrome looks like it will be amazing - the straight there is suited to it perfectly - and the thousands of people that like to join carnival and spend some time in Brazil will be able to stay for the race, Zero Summit and the big music festival happening all on the same weekend. There’s big grandstands to fill and I’m sure the passionate Brazilians will be able to fill it up very quickly!"