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Life of Lucas // An update on Lucas di Grassis' career and plans

Published by Bridget Schuil

I've always thought that Lucas di Grassi was something special – he has a diverse skill-set and a good head on his shoulders. In his early career, he won a number of awards for driving in addition to the championship titles in karting that he racked up. When he was left without a drive at the end of 2010, many were surprised. We know that Virgin (now Marussia Virgin) let him go for financial reasons, opting for the better-funded Jérôme d'Ambrosio, which I felt was most unfortunate for such a promising driver.

Award winning di Grassi
Award winning di GrassiCredit: Andrew Ferraro/GP2 Series Media Service

However, it seems he has been keeping himself busy during his enforced gap-year. For someone who was last at university in 2003 – he gave up his degree in economics when he was nineteen to race full-time – 2011 is a bit late for a gap-year, but he's not spending it scuba diving and waiting tables like the rest of us. He has been working on the other parts of his CV, one would assume to impress future employers.

He recently gave an interview to UOL Esporte in which he said he was re-organising his management structure and seeking a tyre-testing role with Pirelli. Given that he struggled to find sponsorship in 2010, a management re-shuffle is a wise move. A driver's management team exists to take tasks like that off his to-do list, and he spoke about it in a way that implied he was doing a fair amount of the leg-work himself on that front.

In addition, he has offered his consulting services as a test-driver to Hermann Tilke – everyone's favourite track designer – to improve the racing on the more modern circuits. You might be wondering what a lad who spent his formative racing years as a test driver could contribute to track design.

Well actually, more than you'd think. He designed the Sapiens Park Kartodrome in Florianopolis – a rather Tilke-esque design, similar in set-up to the Asian tracks, from all appearances, but with a good mix of fast and slow corners and long straights.

I designed the entire circuit on paper, drawing, and then sought the advice of Felipe [Massa] and other drivers. We ended up making a circuit in which everything went right, the staff loved the track, and it was praised by [Michael] Schumacher.

- Lucas di Grassi in an interview with UOL Esporte (translated using google translate and edited for clarity)

Incidentally, the Sapiens Park Kartodrome is where Desafio Internaçional das Estrelas (Race of the Stars), organised by Massa, takes place every year. Di Grassi's stated goal is to reduce the monotony of modern Formula 1 circuits. Bear in mind, his favourite track is Spa, so this could drastically improve racing at the Tilke tracks, making them resemble classic tracks more closely. The FIA have released a statement saying that they are working to improve tracks to allow more overtaking, showing a measure of progress on di Grassi's part.

Last year, he bought shares in Addax's GP3 team, prompting us to wonder if he wanted to be Just Like Christian Horner 'when he grew up' and make the switch from driver to team boss. Di Grassi spoke about wanting to help talented young drivers with the technical and tactical aspects of the sport – something that would be part of his job description in the management side of a team. He has made noises since then about consolidating this step with shares in a GP2 team and an F1 team, but says that team management is more of a long-term goal.

Today I am part of a GP3 team, trying to get up to a GP2 team, and maybe in the future to own or be inside a Formula 1 team in a managerial capacity, not as a driver. However, this is more for the future.

- Lucas di Grassi in an interview with UOL Esporte (translated using google translate and edited for clarity)

While Lucas didn't get a drive for this year, it hasn't dampened his ambitions in the sport. He is a stellar development driver, as well as being competitive in the lower series, so one can understand his hunger. Perhaps diversifying his portfolio this year will make him more attractive to teams looking at hiring for next season. Sapiens Park is aiming at hosting Brazilian companies – in a diverse array of economic sectors – in the next phase of its development. Having made contacts in those circles, a few of them may be persuaded to contribute to his campaign, replacing the sponsorship he lost last year. With a management reshuffle, gaining a few sponsors and after diversifying his resumé to keep up with his burgeoning ambitions, he will be more attractive to teams in the future. At least, that's the hope.