The first singer I remember hearing
“My father lived and worked in Europe for many years, and we are from an Italian family, so there was a lot of Italian music when I was at my grandparents’ house. We didn’t have Brazilian music at home at all.
The first album I owned
Red Hot Chili Peppers – ‘Californication’
“I was 14 or 15 and competing in the Karting World Championship – and I listened to the CD over and over again in an aeroplane because I was super bored. I still like that album a lot, and rock in general. That was my first CD, which I played on a Sony Walkman with anti-vibration technology. You could actually run and use it. Then, a little bit later, I had Ministry Of Sound and Hedkandi CDs.”
The first gig I went to
Shakira in São Paulo, late 1990s
“When I was about 13 or 14 I went to see Shakira with my school friends and it was the first show I went to by myself. There were five girls and five guys and we went by ourselves to one of the stadiums. I had a lot of fun – you just tried to show off in front of the girls.”
The song that reminds me of home
Mamonas Assassinas – ‘Robocop Gay’
“Today this satirical band would be so controversial because of the slurs and stereotypes in their lyrics, which also talk about crime and drugs. Their name means “Killer Fruit Mamona*”– were an overnight success. They exploded in Brazil and became super popular. Then, two or three years later, they died in a plane crash.
“I knew all the lyrics and songs – I knew everything. I don’t know why my father allowed me to listen to them. I recently took the lyrics of this song and asked ChatGPT to rewrite them in a modern context with more acceptable language; after a few iterations the lyrics were amazing. I sent them to a musician friend of mine and said they had to record them, but I don’t know who holds the rights. Is it me? Is it OpenAI? The song, in my opinion, is better than the original.”
*The band’s name is an innuendo: ‘mamonas’ is the name of the castor oil plant, a source of the toxin ricin, and ‘mamas’ can also refer to breasts.
The song I do at karaoke
Queen – ‘We Are the Champions’
“When we won the championship in 2017, we were at the championship party and we gave €300 to the DJ and he played ‘We Are the Champions’ non-stop. I sung to the whole party. I’ve only won a world championship once, so it was a very, very special night with the team. We were all singing together.”
The song I can’t get out of my head
“I have two kids, so it’s Baby Shark. My two-year-old knows how to ask Alexa to play ‘Baby Shark’, so she wakes up in the morning and asks Alexa to play it by herself. Out of the eight billion or whatever times ‘Baby Shark’ has been played, I’ve played a good 10,000 of them.”
The song I listen to before a race
Nirvana – ‘Come As You Are’
“I need to be half-aggressive and half-focused; the adrenaline needs to starts pumping and with more adrenaline you’re more alert, and you probably perform better.
“It takes a few days for me to recover after a race, especially mentally, because you’ve been fully focused for two hours. That takes away a lot of my energy. I don’t even sleep properly after a weekend’s racing – I’m super-tired but it takes me two or three days to have a proper night’s sleep. It takes three or four days for my heart rate to return to its normal level.”
The song I can no longer listen to
Michel Teló – ‘Ai Se Eu Te Pego’
“This is a very famous Brazilian song, which became a worldwide success, but not in Brazil. I hated it from day one. Outside of Brazil, it’s seen as exotic or cool, but I’d run away to the bar when I heard it and for four minutes my night would be a nightmare. It’s the worst song ever.”
The song I want played at my funeral
Any Frank Sinatra song
“I don’t have a particular song, but if I had to choose it would be one of the classic Frank Sinatra songs. I haven’t thought deeply about my funeral. I don’t even know if I want to have a proper funeral – funerals make people sad for a second time.”
Lucas Di Grassi races in The E Prixe July 29-30 at ExCel London for The Mahindra Racing Team