Lucas di Grassi today put an end to speculation linking him to a move away from ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport for Formula E’s third season by signing a new one-year deal with the German team.
The sport’s current championship leader was signed by the German squad very early in the run up to season one and has remained in the red cars ever since. Rumours had connected him to the incoming Jaguar team but di Grassi put paid to that gossip today.
“I will stay with ABT,” di Grassi explained to Current E ahead of his team’s home race, in Berlin. “There were some discussions before on how we continue together and how we could improve our development, improve the team. We reached an agreement, a very good agreement that I’m very happy with. I think we will improve as a team, I will improve as a driver, we have a very good package together. We are working very well now. There is no reason in season three to move teams.”
ABT confirmed the news on Twitter this afternoon, giving us the first driver confirmed for season three. Di Grassi went on to explain that the agreement was for one further season with the option for more depending on how it goes.
“Let’s say we start with season three and depending on how season three goes, the involvement with manufacturers, how the championship shapes up, we have an option for a longer term partnership,” di Grassi said. “But first we need to see how Formula E evolves as a championship, how ABT evolves as a team and how good our results are in season three.”
The caveats will undoubtedly concern performance (ABT has been responsible for di Grassi being disqualified from a victory in both the first and second seasons), powertrain competitiveness (di Grassi has been closely involved in the development of the team’s third season car so he’ll be confident that the team has a package which could deliver him the 2016-17 title) and whether or not ABT can attract a partner OEM (the obvious link would be Audi or another member of the VW group, with whom the team already has a relationship and which is pushing into electric road vehicles).
With three races remaining in season two, di Grassi is leading the drivers’ championship and ABT is second to Renault in the teams’ championship.