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GP Week : Issue 62
F1 insight >> go-kart to go as fast as I can around a go-kart track, to simulate more or less the same reflexes you use in Formula 1 and GP2. Ayrton Senna used to say that go-karts were the best practice when you are out of a Formula 1 car, but at the moment I disagree a little bit because a normal go-kart is a bit too slow compared toaFormula1carandIam trying to make the go-kart into a useful tool for us, both physically and for our reflexes, while we can't test in F1." See, I love that. How many other Brazilians would say they thought they'd got a better idea than the icon that is Ayrton Senna? Not many! "My kart will be especially useful for hand-eye co- ordination. It's intended to go as fast as possible so you are in a level that you can use to maintain or improve your reflexes for when you come back to an F1 or GP2 car. That's my aim. The go-kart has been quite successful so far. I think at the moment it's around 1.5 seconds quicker than any other 125 shifter go- kart with the same tyres, and I'm also trying to keep it cheap so I can use it without a big expense. It's been good fun." Oh and here's a really good bit -- it's got a front wing from a Formula BMW car and a rear wing that's actually a GP2 front wing. "I'm using basic concepts that I've learned in F1 and GP2 and applying them to a go- kart. It's all about downforce, aerodynamics, the power to weight ratio, driveability... it's an interesting challenge." You can say that again. So where, with all his extra curricula activities (which ,incidentally, include a website established to try and help the environment by promoting intelligent driving in his native Brazil) does he see his future? "I see myself as a racing driver for the next maybe ten or 15 years, but after that there are other things I would like to do. At the moment what I like is to race and to drive, but I think that if you have a different approach to everyone else there are other areas that you can not only help yourself but help and develop better things in your area of expertise. "At the moment my expertise is driving, which is why I am making the go-kart and trying to get people driving better through my website www. smarterdriving.org so let's see how it goes for the future. I would be happy to drive Formula 1 for the next ten years but at the moment you have to stop, if you can do something else to help the sport develop, to help other people to get into sport, I think it's what you should give back to the sport that gives us so much." Our time at an end, I feel almost aggrieved to have to hit the stop button on the Dictaphone. As always I could sit and chat with Lucas for hours. I'm left wondering what will become of him and his career, and if he'll get the shot at F1 that his talent deserves. As it stands right now, I'll make you a bet. Number one: Lucas di Grassi will be an F1 driver in 2010. Number two: When the day arrives on which he finally hangs up his helmet, he'll have an incredibly successful career... as an F1 team principal, sporting director... actually, right here and now I'd say he might even stand for FIA President one day. And he'd be a bloody great one, too. If you've never heard of him until today, remember his name. Because, be it as a driver or simply as the significant figure of influence in motor racing that he is sure to become given his background, intelligence and likeability, I have a gut feeling that Lucas di Grassi is a name and a man that may just come to shape the future of the sport as we know it. 25