Written by Vyas Ponnuri
Mahindra Racing and Lucas Di Grassi have mutually agreed to part ways ahead of the upcoming season of Formula E in 2024, as stated in a joint-announcement made by driver and team on social media.
The 39-year old departed the erstwhile Rokit Venturi outfit and signed a lucrative deal with Mahindra Racing, one that was expected to last well into the future of the new Gen3 era.
The first outing of the Gen3 era gave us an idea of the dreams envisaged by both parties. Di Grassi took pole position for the race, and three valuable points. He would lose out to the Porsche-powered Andretti of Jake Dennis, and the works Porsche of Pascal Wehrlein, but defended fiercely to bring home a podium in his debut race for the Indian outfit.
However, this would prove to be their best result all-season, as Di Grassi would only go on to finish the season down in 15th, with only 32 points to his name. He would go on to score only 14 outside of the season opener, only twice more, in fact, at the inaugural race in Portland, and the chaotic first race of the season finale at London.
The Mahindra team experienced a tough season overall, slumping to tenth in the standings, finishing ahead of only debutants ABT Cupra, also powered by the Mahindra powertrain. Di Grassi was mostly scrapping around the lower reaches of the field.
The 39-year old is one of the most successful drivers in the series, having been the first to reach the milestone of 100 races in the series, as well as being the joint-highest race winner in the series, 13 wins, tied with Envision Racing's Sebastian Buemi.
The Brazilian racer won the first-ever Formula E race, at Beijing, racing for the Audi-backed ABT outfit, with whom he would grab his maiden Formula E title in the 2016-17 season, and race for seven years. He is certainly a stalwart of the series.
Di Grassi departed ABT, following Audi's decision to leave the electric racing series, and joined Rokit Venturi, alongside Edoardo Mortara, another key figure in the Formula E driver market ahead of season ten.
In the social media post, Mahindra Racing team principal Frederic Bertrand thanked Di Grassi for serving the team in 2023:
On behalf of everybody at Mahindra Racing, I would like to extend my sincere thanks to Lucas for his contribution to the team over the past year.
“Lucas has played a valuable and integral role since joining us ahead of the Gen3 era, but both parties now feel the time is right to pursue other options for the future.
“He will always remain part of the Mahindra Racing family and leaves with nothing but our best wishes for his future endeavours.”
Posting on social media, di Grassi said: "I want to express my gratitude to all our team members for the experience we shared during what proved to be a challenging year.
"This decision ultimately benefits us both, as our perspectives and visions have diverged.
"I wish the team and the company the brightest future ahead."
The Indian outfit is set to announce its 2024 driver pairing very soon, with pre-season testing for season ten set to commence at Valencia from 24th October.
Where could Di Grassi head next? Will he leave the series altogether? Only time will tell us the tale, with so few seats to fill, and time running out ahead of season ten's commencement.