Monday, May 27, 2024

Lucas Di Grassi: Late Safety Car ‘Really Hurt Our Chances’

Lucas Di Grassi‘s difficult season continued at the Monaco E-Prix on Saturday, as the Brazilian failed to finish amongst the points places for the eighth consecutive race.

It’s remarkable to think that the former Formula E Champion hasn’t scored any points since the season-opener in Mexico City; however, that’s simply the situation the Mahindra Racing driver currently finds himself in. The ninth round of the 2022/23 ABB FIA Formula E World Championship certainly didn’t start well for Di Grassi, after he crashed in Free Practice 1.

As a result of the time he lost, he struggled in qualifying, where he could only claim twentieth. He would’ve been last had DS Penske not been disqualified from the session, highlighting the Brazilian’s woes. Di Grassi made up great progress during the race, though, and would’ve contested the points places had there not been a late Safety Car, which left him to finish thirteenth. He was later promoted to twelfth following a five-second time penalty for Sam Bird.

Di Grassi was pleased with his performance at the Circuit de Monaco but admitted that the late Safety Car “really hurt our chances” of a points finish, which he’ll now be targeting in Jakarta.

“We had a tough day, starting with FP1 with a crash making us lose critical time in the first few laps of learning the track. Then we were playing catch up. In qualifying we made some improvements, managing the first set of tyres. I lost a set of tyres because of the crash so in qualifying the first part was actually quite good.

“Then in the race, we started P20 and we did a good race with a very good strategy and energy saving. I managed to pass seven cars making it up to 13th, but that was the best we could do, especially with the late safety car at the end which really hurt our chances.”

“I was in quite a bit of pain” – Oliver Rowland

On the other side of the Mahindra garage and it was a painful afternoon for Oliver Rowland, who actually made an exceptional start to the race. Despite having started the E-Prix from thirteenth, Rowland overtook seven cars in the opening two laps, putting himself into sixth.

He was clearly a man on an absolute mission; however, his race suddenly took a dramatic turn. Rowland hit Edoardo Mortara which hurt the Briton’s hand, with a later clash with René Rast having not helped the matter. Rowland was actually forced to pit following the hit with Rast due to having sustained a puncture; however, he returned to the pits not long after being fitted with a new wheel due to the pain in his hand.

He was taken to hospital after the race for an X-Ray on his hand, but thankfully it wasn’t broken. Rowland is now setting his sights on next month’s double-header in Jakarta, where he’ll be hoping to make another electric start.

“I made a great start. I passed seven cars over the first two laps and even managed to save energy at the same time as well, so it was looking positive. I dropped back a couple of spots after using my attack mode early on, but from then on, I was purely focused on moving back up the field again. Unfortunately, I made contact with Mortara, which subsequently hurt my hand when the steering wheel bashed it.

“I then got hit by Rast and got a puncture so had to pit for a wheel and a front nose change which put us to the back of the pack. Once I returned to the track, I tried to carry on, but I ended up having to retire the car because I was in quite a bit of pain. Luckily no broken bones so we look ahead to Jakarta next.”