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GP Week : Issue 62
Lucas di Grassi's is a name of which you should, by now, be only too aware. Mega in F3, a winner in Macau, a multiple GP2 race winner and Renault's long-time tester and reserve driver, and an F1 hopeful for 2010, he's a big presence in motor racing. Pretty damned good in everything he's ever driven, di Grassi is just as impressive out of the car. And so when we sit down to chew the fat, it doesn't really seem strange that we don't talk much about his current GP2 season. It would be easy to talk of his disappointment that, on joining the team which took Giorgio Pantano to the title last season, he has yet to gain the kind of consistency and awe- inspiring race pace that has seen Nico Hulkenberg emerge as a dead cert for the championship. But we don't. It would be easy to talk about the Renault F1 team, the fact that he's been part of their development programme for what seems like forever and that he's been passed over for the race seat first for Piquet's money and then for Grosjean's nationality. But we don't. Because when you sit down with Mr di Grassi, there is just so much more to talk about than the obvious questions... the ones whose answers you can read in a press release. Because you don't really interview Lucas. You talk with him. And then, drawing on his studies of philosophy and politics, he goes off on his own tangents and you just follow where he goes. Because the chances are they'll actually be really interesting. And you find that Lucas di Grassi isn't just a racing driver, but a very interesting man cut from his own cloth, with interests outside not just the closed confines of his cockpit, but the narrow walls of the F1 paddock. You find an individual. And that's pretty rare in today's PR-manipulated world. For example, being Renault's third driver again hasn't really caused him to get his knickers in a twist. "I'm very happy to be back because you start getting close again to F1, getting a much closer look at the car, although testing is not allowed this year. Last year I Lucas di Grassi is a patient young man, one of several young F1 test drivers with limited options thanks to F1's testing ban. He discussed this, and other matters, with WILL BUXTON river F1 insight >> 23