Formula E Preview: Monaco
Written by Vyas Ponnuri, Edited by Sameena Khan
After an enthralling debut of GEN3 cars racing around the Tempelhof Street Circuit, Formula E makes its way to the famous Monaco Street Circuit for Round Nine of the 2023 Formula E World Championship. This will be the first race around the streets of Monaco for GEN3 Formula E machinery. The weekend can arguably be described as having come full circle for the current generation of Formula E cars, with their grand unveiling at the Yacht Club de Monaco a year ago.
As has been the case for the past two seasons, Formula E will again use the ubiquitous Formula 1 track for the sole race of the weekend. The famed racetrack around the streets of Monaco spans 3.337 km (2.047 mi), passing by the famous Sainte Devote corner, the renowned Casino de Monaco, and the all-too-familiar Grand Hotel Hairpin. The track then descends towards the coast and takes the drivers into the iconic tunnel.
The exit from the tunnel leads to the Nouvelle chicane, which presents a great overtaking opportunity to the drivers. This was also the scene of Antonio Felix Da Costa's superb last-lap overtake on Mitch Evans for the race lead, the Portuguese driver winning the race a few corners later. If an overtake at the chicane wasn't possible, the Tabac corner presents an unorthodox overtaking spot. Precision driving is required through the ensuing swimming pool chicanes, and an overtaking opportunity awaits the inside of the La Rascasse right-hander. And finally, a right into the Anthony Noghes corner brings the drivers back onto the main straight for a lap of the Monaco Street Circuit.
The Nouvelle chicane is one of the most prominent overtaking spots on the track. Other overtaking spots include Turn One, provided the drivers can keep the car out of the barriers on the corner's exit. The run-up to the hill, Beau Rivage, and the following left-hander of Massenet are unorthodox overtaking opportunities. However, the former requires plenty of bravery, with the cars mere inches away from the barriers at high speed. Nevertheless, Mitch Evans pulled off a stunning overtake on Da Costa in 2021, while Robin Frijns pulled off an overtake mirroring Evans a year later.
As was the case in the last two E Prix held at the circuit, attack mode is situated on the outside of the Casino Square right-hander, and this could lead to side-by-side battles into the subsequent Mirabeau corner. The race is set to run for 29 laps, plus any added laps in case of Safety Car periods during the race.
While the layout is the same for Formula One and Formula E, the electric racing series has seen plenty of overtaking around the streets of Monaco, with the smaller cars and similarity in car characteristics providing more wheel-to-wheel action. And this year is expected to offer more of the same, looking back at the unpredictability of the ongoing season and past races at Monaco.
Last season's outing at Monaco saw Stoffel Vandoorne triumph in the Principality for Mercedes, taking the championship lead. Mitch Evans finished second for Jaguar, while Jean-Eric Vergne rounded out the podium for DS Techeetah. The trio could be in action towards the front of the field again, as Evans and Vergne have already taken wins this season. Vandoorne, on the other hand, has shown flashes of form after a slow start, and he would be one to watch out for across the weekend.
The previous weekend of Formula E in Berlin brought plenty of action and more swings in the championship. Mitch Evans and Sam Bird finished 1-2 for Jaguar in race one, while Max Gunther took a last-gasp podium finish, overtaking pole-sitter Sebastian Buemi in a final lap, final corner move. The weekend's second race saw qualifying on a sodden track, giving the backmarker ABT Cupra team their moment in the spotlight. Robin Frijns took pole position from teammate Nico Muller in a surprise showing for this season's debutants.
However, their performance faded away in the dry conditions, as Nick Cassidy came through from eighth on the grid to win. Jake Dennis broke his scoreless streak, taking his first points since round three in Diriyah with a runners-up finish. Jean-Eric Vergne finished third for DS Penske. Meanwhile, championship leader Pascal Wehrlein only managed seventh, which saw his lead in the standings cut to only four points. Cassidy's haul of points took him to second in the standings.
With only 24 points separating leader Wehrlein and fifth-placed Mitch Evans, an exciting championship battle prevails as Formula E heads into the second half of the season next weekend. Make sure to tune into the racing action over the weekend, with Free Practice 1 commencing on Saturday, 6th May, at 7:25 a.m. local time (8:25 a.m. BST).