Formula E: Round 7 – Monaco ePrix Preview

Jordan Adcock

Oct 27, 2014
After a month’s break since Nelson Piquet Jr’s Long Beach win made it six different winners in six races, Formula E heads to its most prestigious destination yet, wondering if that run will reach seven this weekend.

The series will race on the first properly new layout in Monaco since the very first Grand Prix in 1929, and it’s a shortening of the typical track similar to last time out in Long Beach. The Californian track provided an unusually quiet race for the Formula Es, but even if the race isn't ultimately that exciting, a new version of Monaco is still an interesting prospect and more evidence that Formula E is slowly carving its own identity among major racing series.

In this new 1.76km, 12-turn version, the first corner Sainte Devote becomes a hairpin instead of leading of a right-hander to the climb to Casino Square. Cars will then head down the narrow Avenue du Président Kennedy, which usually serves as run-off exiting the tunnel. The cars rejoin the normal circuit through another hairpin at the point of the Nouvelle chicane, and then the layout is the same as F1 for the rest of the lap.

The change is undoubtedly because the still-relatively-new Formula E cars and batteries currently lack both speed and range compared to their conventionally-powered counterparts. And that deficit has recently become a talking point amongst the paddock, with the series’ course car supplier BMW dissuaded from entering. The German manufacturer admitted that the Formula E cars’ current performance doesn't ideally fit with their brand image of endurance.

But Alejandro Agag has been robust in saying the cars will be much faster next season, when Formula E grows out of being a deliberately conservative spec series, which allows the teams to get used to the new technology. With powertrain developments opened up to eight manufacturers for 2015/16, the hope is teams will quickly improve performance through competition.

Plus even if one manufacturer isn't ready to fully commit to Formula E, then Citröen might: AUTOSPORT has reported that Citröen will partner with current team Virgin Racing for the 2015/16 season financially and technologically. Though neither party refuses to say whether anything is confirmed yet, new PSA Group boss Carlos Tavares is a known fan of the concept and even brokered a sponsorship deal between Formula E and Renault during his time as CEO there.

In terms of the championship battle, Lucas di Grassi has just extended his deal to drive for Audi Sport ABT and enters Monaco with a one point lead over Nelson Piquet Jr (China Racing), but his fellow Brazilian is Formula E’s most consistent man at the moment, beating di Grassi in the three last races and beaming after his Long Beach win. It may comfort di Grassi that maintaining high-scoring momentum has proved very difficult for almost everyone in the series, but he really could do with another win to solidify his championship hopes against his compatriot.

e-Dams' Nicolas Prost went bizarrely off the boil in Long Beach, losing places and earning a penalty for his clumsy collision with Jérôme d'Ambrosio (Dragon Racing). For all his speed, Prost continues to prove somewhat erratic in his racecraft and can’t afford that at Monaco, which is about as tight as street circuits get. Teammate Sébastien Buemi by contrast got back on track with 4th at Long Beach after his own mediocre race in Miami, and will want to close his 20-point gap to di Grassi, while Putrajaya winner Sam Bird (Virgin Racing) will be desperate for some good luck after several races where potential big points have slipped away, leaving him even further back in contention.

Also look out for Buenos Aires winner António Félix da Costa (Amlin Aguri), the Andretti Autosport pair of Scott Speed and Jean-Éric Vergne, each having taken a 2nd place in the last two races, and the Mahindras and Venturis all have the pace to compete if they too had better luck during the races, especially Nick Heidfeld. The German's efforts deserve much more than just five points so far, like Daniel Abt with just one podium to teammate di Grassi's four.

Drivers’ Standings after 6 races
Lucas di Grassi Audi Sport ABT 75 points
2 Nelson Piquet Jr China Racing 74
3 Nicolas Prost e-Dams 69
4 Sébastien Buemi e-Dams 55
5 Sam Bird Virgin Racing 52

Teams’ Standings after 6 races
1 e-Dams
2 Audi Sport ABT 97
3 Virgin Racing 82
4 Andretti Autosport 80
5 China Racing 74

Qualifying is at 10am UTC this Saturday, which you can follow here on RaceDepartment through Formula E’s live online stream. It’s also available for the race or you can watch ITV4’s coverage from 2pm with the race starting at 3pm.

Will you be watching the ePrix on Saturday? Do you like the look of the circuit? Who do you think will win? Comment below!
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Nice apex, I'll take it!
May 2, 2010
Will Formula E cars prove that you can overtake at Monaco I wonder?

Nice to see that turn 1 isn't a stupid chicane that the drivers can just cut though. :)