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Formula E

I can’t wait to return to Hong Kong, says new Formula E champion Lucas di Grassi

Brazilian ace becomes the third Formula E champion in three years over the weekend and now aims for a flying start to the new campaign in the opening race in Hong Kong in December

PUBLISHED : Monday, 31 July, 2017, 4:42pm
UPDATED : Monday, 31 July, 2017, 10:44pm

After becoming the third different Formula E champion in three years at the weekend, Brazilian Lucas di Grassi said he can’t wait to begin the defence of his title in Hong Kong – the place he calls his “lucky city”.

The former Formula One driver finished seventh for Audi Sport in the final race of the season in Montreal. The race was won by Frenchman Jean-Eric Vergne, but di Grassi did enough to end the 2016-2017 season as champion on 181 points.

And the 32-year-old Sao Paulo-born ace is already looking forward to starting the new season in Hong Kong in December. The Hong Kong e-prix extravaganza will be held for the second year running on December 2 and 3 and will feature the likeable Brazilian, whose brilliant driving skills were in evidence in the streets of Central’s Harbourfront, where he worked his way up the grid from second last to finish second behind race winner, Sebastien Buemi, of Switzerland.

Di Grassi had earlier looked set to complete the fastest lap in qualifying in Hong Kong but was prevented from doing so because of a series of crashes.

“This season was our toughest I would say. I had to do one race with a broken fibula, I really had luck on my side in some races, Hong Kong and Mexico for example,” said Di Grassi. “So, I guess this was our year and it’s extremely satisfying and I’m going to celebrate and party a lot tonight.”

Di Grassi has been on the Formula E series since its inception and, although impressed by the city and the set-up in Hong Kong, he was looking for improvements on the track.

“The circuit - like always - can always be improved,” he said last year. “A bit better, a bit wider, for next year we have to make it a bit bigger, more interesting maybe – but already to have the first race in these conditions is spectacular. From what I heard, everything was sold out and I sense a lot of people in Hong Kong [feel it’s] very important to be here.”

Di Grassi became his country’s second champion in the electric series after Nelson Piquet Jnr, who won the inaugural 2014-15 title.

Outgoing champion Buemi, who had been 10 points clear before coming to Montreal, was runner-up with 157 points after a nightmare weekend.

The Swiss, who had to miss two races in New York due to World Endurance Championship commitments, was disqualified from race one on Saturday for an underweight car. He was then caught in a first corner collision on Sunday before finishing 13th.

His Renault eDams team did take the team title for the third time in a row, however.

Di Grassi, who won only two races to Buemi’s six, was tearful at the finish after a dream come true. He had finished third in the first Formula E season and second in the next.

“After two close seasons we finally made it,” he said. “I’m so proud of my team and myself.”

Additional reporting by Reuters