DRIVING THE MESSAGE HOME
refitted and the car is prepared for action,
minus a wing mirror that fell off in the lift.
A glaciologist is on hand to advise on the
ice conditions. As the engineers look the
car over, he walks with Lucas, inspecting for
cracks in the area he thinks is safe to drive.
The post-flight health check is positive.
The only concern now is the unproven mix
of 170k W of power on a bed of melting ice.
The engineers wear rubber-soled boots,
while di Grassi hopes he’s earthed by the
tungsten-spiked Michelin ice tires.
“I tested it on an ice rink near London,
but otherwise you cannot prepare for
this,” says the F1 and Le Mans veteran.
LUCAS DI GRASSI
“To see how global warming
is melting it, it gives me a
different perception of what
we’re doing with Formula E”
(MAIN) Lucas di Grassi gets the ice crystals
flying as he nudges the Formula E racecar’s
throttle on the Greenland ice. (FAR LEFT)
Formula E CEO Alejandro Agag and di Grassi.
(BELOW) Slung under a Bell 212 Twin Huey
helicopter, the all-electric car touches down.
Formula E founder
Alejandro Agag’s vision
was a race series to
lead the way on the
technology and public
perception of electric
motoring. All that was
missing from the
narrative was a
snapshot showing why
electric cars matter.
Driving one of the
all-electric racers on
the Greenland ice sheet
provided that image,
but also put into stark
perspective how real
and pressing the issue
of climate change is.
“I have four children
and the future of the
planet depends on how
we control the effect
human life is having on
the environment and the
climate,” says Agag.
“That’s why I think
climate change is very
important to address,
to control, to face,
and everyone can
do something. We
do something for
can do something
from whatever they
do in their lives.”
Find out more about
climate change at
The engineers want Lucas to get going.
They can’t predict the lifespan of the
battery in the near-freezing temperatures.
Delicately, he opens the throttle. After a
little spin of the rear wheels, the ice spikes
bite and the car leaps forward. History in
the making. The first racecar. The first
zero-emission car. The first electric car…
to drive on the Greenland ice sheet.
Di Grassi is getting more confident. He
spins the car in a “donut.” He power
slides it. At speeds he later calculates are
over 60mph, he occasionally gets a little
air as the car bounces across the surface,
a rooster tail of ice and meltwater behind.
“To come here and see the icebergs,
the ice sheet, how huge it is, and how
global warming is melting it, gives me a
completely different perception of what
we’re doing with Formula E,” reflects
di Grassi after completing his drive.
“Seeing all this for real, I truly understand
the importance of driving electric cars.”