One to watch: Lucas di Grassi

One To WatchPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Lucas di Grassi, GP2, Hungaroring, 2007 | Alastair Staley / GP2 Media ServiceAyrton Senna, Rubens Barrichello, Felipe Massa… could Lucas di Grassi be the next Sao Paulo native to make it into Formula 1?

Di Grassi is currently battling four times F1 starter and BMW test driver Timo Glock for the GP2 championship. He races for Lewis Hamilton’s old team, and has the backing of Renault’s Driver Development programme, which has already given him his first F1 test.

Today sees the beginning of new series looking at the drivers aiming to make it into F1.

Di Grassi did a few races in Formula Renault before stepping up to Sud-Am F3 aged 18. His season ended when he crashed heavily at Curitiba and, not having any insurance, couldn’t afford to continue. Nonetheless he still ended the season second behind Danilo Dirani.

He tested for Hitech at the end of 2003 and the Renault Driver Development programme placed him with the team in British F3 for 2004. But he struggled with Renault’s Sodemo engine and ended the year eighth with two wins at Thruston – the only victories all year for the Renault power plant.

Renault moved him to the F3 Euroseries with Manor for 2005, but early in the year he suffered a huge crash with Giedo van der Garde. He finished the season third behind the dominant ASM cars of Hamilton and Adrian Sutil. Di Grassi triumphed the prestigious end-of-season race at Macau, beating Robert Kubica and Sebastian Vettel, but Hamilton was not at the race.

In 2006 he joined the Durango team in GP2 and scored eight points. But for 2007 he bagged a coveted drive with ART – champions with Nico Rosberg in 2005 and Lewis Hamilton in 2006.

After 13 of 21 rounds he is one point behind championship leader Timo Glock, who has had an unusual number of mechanical failures for a one-make series such as GP2. Consistency has been the name of di Grassi’s game – he’s scored points in all but one race.

It could still be enough to give him the GP2 title – and both the previous GP2 champions have stepped straight into F1. Could di Grassi, who so far hasn’t won a championship in any racing category, be next?

Photo: Alastair Staley / GP2 Media Service

Read more about Lucas di Grassi: Lucas di Grassi biography