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Audi: Roborace CEO role can't distract di Grassi from Formula E

Lucas di Grassi Roborace

Lucas di Grassi's role as CEO of the driverless racing car initiative Roborace must not distract him from his Formula E campaign, insists his employer Audi.

Reigning FE champion di Grassi has long been an advocate of electric vehicles and autonomous technology and was announced as Roborace's chief executive at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September.

Audi motorsport boss Dieter Gass told Autosport his firm had long been aware of di Grassi's interest in Roborace, and revealed he even brokered a meeting between Audi and Roborace founder Denis Sverdlov last year.

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"I was not surprised really," said Gass. "We knew about his interest, he was always pushing for Roborace, looking at possible designs.

"I don't think it's going to bring any problems.

"He is contracted to us, [Audi is] the priority.

"If we should see anything we don't like we would need to put some pressure on him to focus on the racing side, but if you look at the timescales I don't think it's going to affect him."

Di Grassi expects to find balancing his Roborace role with FE easier than when he was racing in LMP1 at the same time as the electric single-seater series.

Audi WEC 2014

He was part of Audi's World Endurance Championship line-up while also racing in the 2014/15 and 2015/16 FE seasons, and at the start of his title-winning 2016/17 campaign.

"When I was doing LMP and FE I was much more busy," di Grassi told Autosport.

"In my spare time, instead of doing a series that is not relevant or where I will not learn anything, I prefer to spend my time with something that will have a much bigger impact in the future.

"I still want to do Macau, Daytona, Le Mans, but I will not spend my spare time doing a championship.

"I have other companies but I will spend a lot of this new spare time trying to develop Roborace.

"We have 50 people working on it, they don't need me there day to day to run it.

"My role is more on communications, more on strategy, more on high-end deals."

Di Grassi added his goal was to turn a "very nice, very faraway concept into reality".

His ideas include enticing companies to bring racing cars to showcase them and compete against the 'Robocar', and "create yearly challenges, a championship of intelligence and augmented gaming" as Roborace matures.

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