Monaco gears up for high speed Formula E street battle

Monaco gears up for high speed Formula E street battle

The undulating and unforgiving streets of Monte-Carlo present the next challenge for the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship’s Season 10 title hopefuls...

The 2023/24 ABB FIA Formula E World Championship reaches its midway stage this weekend (27 April), as the all-electric single-seater series heads to the legendary Circuit de Monaco for a high-speed, high-stakes showdown in the famous Principality.

A venue steeped in motorsport heritage and tradition, Monaco first welcomed Formula E in 2015 when it featured on the championship’s inaugural calendar, with five subsequent contests generating some electrifying action. Since 2021, competitors have done battle around the full 3.337km, 19-turn grand prix layout, inviting them to unleash all of their street-fighting skills on a narrow, tortuous track with a notoriously unforgiving nature and a propensity to bite.

After triumphing last time out at Misano, TAG Heuer Porsche’s Pascal Wehrlein is level-pegging at the summit of the standings with Andretti Formula E rival Jake Dennis – the German ranked ahead by dint of his superior win count in Season 10. Wehrlein posted fastest lap in Monte-Carlo in 2019 on his way to a fourth-place finish, but has pocketed just a single point from the race’s most recent three editions, while Dennis reached the rostrum there last year.

Nine points behind and left ruing a technical issue that cost him a second consecutive success in Italy earlier this month, Nissan Formula E Team’s Oliver Rowland will be determined to get his title tilt back on-track at a circuit where he scooped the runner-up spoils – barely two tenths-of-a-second shy of glory – five years ago.

Also well in the mix is Jaguar TCS Racing’s Nick Cassidy – the early-season championship pace-setter – who proved beyond doubt that it is possible to pass in Monaco by scything from ninth on the grid to the top step of the podium in 2023.

DS Penske star Jean-Éric Vergne has similarly tamed the most glamorous E-Prix – prevailing from pole position in 2019 – while Maximilian Günther (Maserati MSG Racing) has only one prior points finish to his name in Monte-Carlo, taking the chequered flag fifth in 2021. His Monegasque team – already a winner in 2024 after the German triumphed in Tokyo – will be eager to assert itself in its own backyard, as rookie stablemate Jehan Daruvala bids to build upon the momentum of scoring his first career point at Misano.

Cassidy’s Jaguar team-mate Mitch Evans boasts the strongest recent record of any driver in Monaco. Third in 2021 and runner-up in each of the past two seasons, the New Zealander is the sole competitor to have ascended the rostrum on every occasion Formula E has raced on the full layout. A continuation of that run this weekend would provide a significant boost to his championship challenge.

NEOM McLaren Formula E Team duo Sam Bird and Jake Hughes both have form in the Principality, too – Bird coming away with fastest lap in 2017 and Hughes lining up on pole position last year following a grid penalty for the impressive Sacha Fenestraz (Nissan).

Hailing from nearby Antibes, Andretti’s Norman Nato will be the local driver in the field this weekend as the Frenchman aims to shine on home soil. For inspiration, he could look at the past performances of Formula E champions Stoffel Vandoorne (DS Penske), Sébastien Buemi (Envision Racing) and António Félix da Costa (Porsche), all further behind him in the points classification but all former winners on the streets of Monte-Carlo.

Vandoorne made history as the first driver to win the Monaco E-Prix having not started on pole in 2022 – a feat repeated by Cassidy from even further back 12 months later – while Buemi dominated proceedings in 2015 and 2017 and has registered points in the race five times out of six. Da Costa emerged on top of a thrilling three-way tussle for honours in 2021.

Other previous podium-visitors in Monte-Carlo are Envision’s Robin Frijns – runner-up in 2021 – and 2016/17 champion Lucas Di Grassi, who placed second to Buemi in each of the E-Prix’s first two editions. The Brazilian opened his scoring account for the current campaign in race two at Misano.

The only team yet to tally a top ten result in Season 10 is Mahindra Racing, but the Indian outfit can take encouragement from having achieved a podium finish in the Principality before – and if there’s anywhere a surprise is likely to be sprung, it’s Monaco...

Round eight of the 2023/24 Formula E campaign will get underway at 15:03 CEST on Saturday, 27 April.

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