Lucas di Grassi's Karting career got underway in 1997, with the youngster winning the Sao Paulo Championship at the first attempt and the Brazilian title just one year later. In 1999, he won the South American championship, going on, in 2000, to win the Pan American title and finish fifth in the Formula A World Championship.
It was in 2002 that Lucas made the switch to cars, finishing runner-up in the Brazilian Formula Renault Championship. The following year, still only 18, he moved up to the South American F3 Championship, finishing runner-up once again. What makes his 2003 achievement all the more remarkable is that Lucas finished runner-up despite missing the last six races of the series as he recovered from a major crash at Curitiba.
In 2003, in addition to his South American F3 commitments, Lucas also took part in four rounds of the F3 Euroseries with Prema Powerteam, his best result being a fourth.
In 2004, Lucas, by now part of the prestigious Renault Driver Development Programme (RDD), contested the highly-renowned British F3 Championship with Hitech Racing, taking two wins and finishing fourth overall. The youngster also impressed with a podium finish in the Macau Grand Prix.
It was in 2005 that Lucas moved up to the F3 Euroseries, joining Manor Motorsport. However, with opposition in the form of Lewis Hamilton and Adrian Sutil, both driving for ASM, Lucas could only manage one win, finishing third in the championship. However, on his return to Macau, Lucas, starting from third on the grid, took a well deserved victory, though it has to be admitted that Hamilton did not contest the event.
For 2006, Lucas made the move up to the new GP2 Series with Team Durango. However, it was a difficult year, with the Brazilian scoring just eight points and finishing seventeenth in the final standings.
In 2007 he remained in GP2 but now joined reigning champions Art Grand Prix. It was a funny season, and Lucas rarely shone, however he scored points on a regular basis, indeed he only failed to score points once in the first thirteen events.
He took a victory at Istanbul, and temporarily took the championship lead from Timo Glock, the German winning next day's sprint race and thereby re-taking the championship lead and ultimately the title.
At the launch of Renault's 2008 F1 contender Lucas was named as the French squad's test and reserve driver, the Brazilian making his F1 debut just a couple of weeks later at Jerez.
The new testing rules for 2008 meant that Lucas' time in the cockpit of the R28 was strictly limited. Following the Jerez test in February, the Brazilian wasn't back in the car until September (Jerez again) and finally November (Barcelona).
In GP2, despite missing the first three rounds, Lucas made a dramatic return to the series at Magny Cours after being brought in to replace Ben Hanley at Campos. In the first two rounds he contested (Magny Cours and Silverstone) he scored three seconds and one fourth. Wins in Hungary and Valencia put Lucas in with a shot at the tile as he closed in on Giorgio Pantano and Bruno Senna however, a final lap clash with the Italian at Spa - which subsequently saw Pantano disqualified - put paid to his dream.
Nonetheless, a win in the Feature Race at Monza gave him third place in the championship twelve points behind the title winner and just one behind runner-up Senna.
In November, Lucas undertook two days of testing for the Honda F1 team along with Senna, both of whom put in strong performances lapping only marginally off the pace of Jenson Button. Honda's subsequent withdrawal from F1 killed off any real hope of Lucas making it into F1 in 2009, certainly by that particular route.
In 2009, Lucas was retained by Renault but other than promotional outings didn't drive the car in anger until December when he undertook two days of testing at Barcelona.
In GP2, Lucas once again finished third - and with the same number of points as he scored in 2008 - however, his performance wasn't nearly as convincing, taking only one win. That said, the Racing Engineering driver did score seven more podium finishes so perhaps we are being overly harsh.
With four new teams entering F1 in 2010 Lucas was keen not to remain in GP2 for a fifth series and having enjoyed success with Manor Motorsport in the F3 Euroseries and at Macau it was no surprise that the young Brazilian was being linked with the Yorkshire team which had secured one of the 2010 grid slots.
On December 15, Lucas was named as number two driver at the Manor Grand Prix team which was by now known as Virgin Racing, he would be partnering 2007 GP2 champion Timo Glock.
Due to the timescale and budget, the VR-01 was, as expected, a fairly conventional design. Furthermore, downforce was poor. Nonetheless, in the early stages of the season it gave the Lotus a run for its money. However, the big disaster for the team was the fact that a major error during the design stage meant the fuel tank was too small. In other words, no matter how good its pace or reliability, the car was never going to last a full race distance.
Consequently, the tub was redesigned, the new version with a longer wheelbase, however, while Glock got his in time for Barcelona, Lucas had to wait until Turkey.
The redesign meant that a planned upgrade for Barcelona, including a new floor and front and rear wings, was delayed until the British Grand Prix, while after that the updates were few and far between. While the longer wheelbase car was initially slower than the original version, this was soon rectified with some aero tweaks.
Reliability was a major issue, indeed, the team only finished 20 times from 36 starts. Then again, the fuel tank fiasco didn't help. Nonetheless, over the course of the season, other than a DNS for Glock in China (engine air pressure) and di Grassi crashing on his way to the grid in Japan, the VR-01 fell victim to failures involving its gearbox, hydraulics, suspension, clutch, track rod, steering and even a broken wishbone. Indeed, other than an accident in Korea, Lucas suffered six DNFs
Despite the problems, Lucas - and his teammate - kept their chins up and got on with their jobs, the Brazilian's best result coming in Malaysia where he finished fourteenth. However, this clearly wasn't enough for Virgin, which, for reasons known only to itself, opted to drop the Brazilian at season end in favour of Belgian Jerome d'Ambrosio.
Statistics - at the end of 2010 Season
Drivers' Titles: 0
Seasons in F1: 1
Grand Prix: 18
Fastest Laps: 0
Best result in 2010: 14th (Malaysia)
Best qualifying 2010: 20th (Singapore)
Worst qualifying 2010: 24th (2 times)
2010: Out-qualified Timo Glock 2 times
2010: Out-qualified by Timo Glock 17 times
2010: Completed 770 out of 1076 laps (71.6%)
2010: Finished 11 times from 18 starts (61%)