Reigning Formula E champion Lucas di Grassi says he’s “sorry to see” his race engineer depart Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler.
As revealed by e-racing365, Franco Chiocchetti has resigned from the German squad after being an integral part of di Grassi’s championship-winning season in 2016/17.
The Brazilian believes the Season Three success contributed significantly to Chiocchetti’s decision to step down from his role with the now-full factory Audi squad.
“I was not completely surprised or shocked because since we started working together in Formula E he said that once we had won the championship then he would think about [not] continuing,” di Grassi told e-racing365.
“It was like he was thinking about the next challenge and he often talked about this to me.
“I thought maybe it was just a joke between us but I think maybe there was something serious behind it. I’ll be sorry to see him go.”
The Audi ABT driver was effusive in his praise for Chiocchetti, who he described as “a great guy” and a “really dedicated engineer and strategist who did a fantastic job.”
The relationship between di Grassi and Chiocchetti even survived a severely strained period in March 2016 when the Brazilian was disqualified from the Mexico City E-Prix after his car was found to be underweight in post-race technical checks.
The pair didn’t speak for several weeks after the incident but ultimately repaired their relationship.
“We got through this difficult time in Season Two after Mexico where we had the disqualification which was so hard one to take,” said di Grassi.
“But overall he did some fantastic strategy calls and a large portion of what we achieved was because of Franco last season. I really think that was the case.”
Di Grassi also believes that Chiocchetti was a barometer for how Formula E success is gained as he emphasized the “human capability which is vital in this type of racing.”
“Don’t forget that in Formula E that the amount of people is limited,” he said.
“We have seen some teams in F1 over the years with massive budgets but not being able to succeed because you also need good management and talented people to work with. This is what we had in Franco for sure.”