Written by Vyas Ponnuri, Edited by Meghana Sree
In a surprise return, former Mahindra racer Lucas Di Grassi is all set to don a shade of blue in 2024, leaving the Indian marque to race for the ABT Cupra team, in their sophomore season under their new guise.
While Di Grassi looked set to stay at Mahindra Racing until the end of 2024, a recent development saw the team and driver announce their decision to part ways ahead of the upcoming Formula E season.
Di Grassi has moved to the other Mahindra-powered constructor on the grid, 2024's sophomores, the ABT Cupra racing team. While this would be a confusing move, Di Grassi sees light at the end of the tunnel, as he believes the team can be a force in the upcoming Gen3 Evo era, when ABT could be expected to change powertrains.
Di Grassi also returns to familiar pastures, having raced at the Audi-backed ABT team for six seasons, ever since the inception of the series, winning the championship in the 2016-17 season.
The Brazilian racer has experienced plenty of success with the German team, and in their new guise, will be looking to drive the team up the grid, as they look to improve on their tough return to the series.
While ABT Cupra have experienced struggles with a Mahindra powertrain in their machinery, and will have to use the Indian manufacturer’s powertrains for another season, due to the two-year homologation cycle, the German motorsport marquee could potentially benefit from a Porsche powertrain in their cars from 2025, once the Gen3 Evo era begins.
It is also understood that ABT Cupra have recently held talks with Porsche over a potential powertrain deal post-2024, once the two-year homologation cycle ends for a Formula E powertrain. Coincidentally, Porsche is one of the many brands coming under the Volkswagen brand conglomerate, of which ABT Cupra themselves are a sister team.
When looking at the performance of the Porsche powertrain in 2023, the powertrain in the championship-winning Avalanche Andretti of Jake Dennis, it would be a massive shot in the arm for ABT, who are looking to improve their points tally next season and return to being a force, much like their Audi predecessors pre-2021.
A driver looking for redemption after a relatively tough season, a team looking to jump ahead in the standings after a difficult debut, and a big-ticket future project in the works– it is clear why Di Grassi has opted to return to ABT for season ten.
Di Grassi's return to the German team began to look like a certainty after the thirty nine year-old departed Mahindra Racing ahead of season ten, and the Indian manufacturer brought the returning Nyck de Vries onboard, along with Maserati departee Edoardo Mortara. The vacancy arose at ABT Cupra after Robin Frijns opted to return to Envision Racing for 2024, triggering a series of moves in the Formula E driver market that will eventually culminate in another racer returning to his former team.
Nico Müller To Partner Di Grassi for Season Ten
Di Grassi's partner-in-crime for season ten will be the incumbent Nico Müller. The Swiss racer joined ABT Cupra last season, and ended season nine on a high for the returning German outfit.
Müller qualified a season-best second for ABT Cupra at the team's home race in Berlin, rounding out an ABT Cupra front-row lockout in the rain in the second race of the Berin double-header. He would go on to finish ninth, and take his first points of the season.
Müller ended the season strong, capitalising on chaos induced by a six-car accident in the first of two races at Rome, grabbing ABT Cupra's, and his best result of the season, sixth. The Swiss racer finished tenth in the second race of the double header, marking the only weekend when the team scored points in both races of the weekend.
He finished eighth in a chaotic London E Prix too, ending the season 19th in the championship, as he outscored more veteran teammate Robin Frijns, and the quicker NIO 333 car of Sergio Sette Camara.
Müller will be looking to improve on his showings from season nine, and apply the learnings from the first year of the GEN3 era, to put on a stronger showing for the ABT team in season ten.