July 13, 2024
Di Grassi “underestimated” team differences with Formula E’s Gen3 car

2016/17 Formula E champion di Grassi finished a distant 13th on the championship’s first visit to Brazil, two places ahead of Mahindra teammate Oliver Rowland, after a day in which the Indian manufacturer failed to trouble the frontrunners.

It followed on from a disastrous weekend for Mahindra in Cape Town, where both its factory cars and the customer Abt entries had to be withdrawn from the race for safety reasons.

Mahindra has struggled for performance with the Gen3 car this year and failed to score points in four of the six races so far, with di Grassi’s surprise podium in the Mexico opener and Rowland’s sixth-place finish in Hyderabad the only occasions where the team managed to finish inside the top 10.

Speaking after the Sao Paulo race, di Grassi said he expected the 2023 FE grid to be closely matched to each other, explaining that Mahindra faces a massive deficit to the leading manufacturers after the first-thirds of the season.

“Porsche and Jaguar are way ahead, and DS Penske and Nissan are still there, close [to the front],” he said.

“It’s quite a difference, I underestimated the differences this year. I thought it was going to be much closer. 

“In qualifying, you can even do something. I took pole in Mexico, but in the race, impossible…

“You need pace and efficiency. There is a lot for us to improve and we are doing our best, but it is hard and long-term work.

“Even if nothing had happened in qualifying, if we had a P10 in the quali, finishing in the top 10 in the race would be very difficult. 

“Maybe we would get a few points, but that would be the maximum we could do. If you see the efficiencies and amounts of energy that the other had…”

Lucas di Grassi, Mahindra Racing

Photo by: Andreas Beil

Di Grassi’s Brazil race was made tougher by a crash in qualifying which left him at the back of the grid, but all other Mahindra-powered cars also failed to progress to the group stages, with Abt’s Nico Muller the best of the quartet in 13th position.

Di Grassi explained that Mahindra’s main weakness is the efficiency of the powertrain, which means it often struggles in race trim against the competition.

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Asked by Autosport where the M9Electro package should be more competitive, he said: “London, Rome and Monaco. But we don’t know, because the FIA decides the number of laps, so maybe they arrive in London and say it will be 50 laps.

“With more laps, the difference in efficiency increases: when the race is longer, the most efficient car makes even more difference. We don’t know, but I think London, Rome and Monaco are OK.

“Achieving another two or three podiums throughout the year, that’s the perspective [goal] on a track where energy is less sensitive. Here, those who had a little more efficiency gained a lot of lap time.

“When the track doesn’t demand that much from the car’s efficiency, I think it will give us a good result.”

“This Sao Paulo track is perhaps the worst of all for Mahindra. Let’s say, Cape Town and this one.

“[Formula E] are trying more and more to make the race a game of efficiency, it gets complicated for us.

“[Mahindra] are already thinking about next year. We’ve already had several discussions and next week there’s more discussion about what we’re going to do with the car.”

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