The most prestigious race of the year for the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship is through the streets of Monaco, this Saturday 30 April. Set against the picturesque backdrop of the Principality on the Cote d’Azur with its world-famous Grand Prix circuit, the TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team competes with two Porsche 99X Electric race cars. The drivers are Pascal Wehrlein (GER/#94), who this year in Mexico clinched the first victory for Porsche in the innovative electric racing series, and André Lotterer (GER/#36).
Race 6 will be contested within the most expensive square mile in the world, and it throws special challenges at drivers and teams. The streets will close for the Formula E race early on Saturday morning, and only then will the flower planters, parking meters and traffic signs be moved out of the way. There will be no shakedown for the 22 cars to check out the track. Instead, they get two short free practice sessions to finalise the setup for the demanding track with its legendary corners like the Sainte Dévote, Casino and Mirabeau, and the spectacular section through the tunnel at the harbour. Then the hunt begins for pole position.
The TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team recently earned critical championship points in Rome, which pushed the squad up the team rankings into second place. This is the second time the team will race in Monaco. “The demands on the drivers are extremely high,” says Florian Modlinger, Director Factory Motorsport Formula E. “There are very few run-off zones, and to turn a fast lap, you need to use every centimetre of the track.”
Q&A on the Monaco E-Prix
Florian Modlinger, Director Factory Motorsport Formula E
What makes Monaco the highlight of the season and how important are these prestigious venues for Formula E?
“Monaco is always a highlight thanks to its fantastic atmosphere and challenging track layout. What’s more, this year we’ll witness a world premiere with the Gen3 car. Venues like Monaco are very important for Formula E. The extremely exciting race last season with countless overtaking moves demonstrated how well Formula E and the Monaco track layout go together.”
What insights and motivation does the team take with them from Rome to Monaco?
“After Diriyah and Mexico City, Rome was the first race on a traditional street course this season. So we’ve shown that we’re a force to be reckoned with on these tracks too. We now need to build on this and challenge the teams that do well on such tracks by putting in a strong performance.”
André Lotterer, Porsche works driver (#36)
Monaco is your home race. How excited are you and how do you think you’ll go?
“It’s a privilege and a real highlight to be able to race in Monaco. I’m very much looking forward to it, especially because I can go home to sleep in my own bed. After we fluffed the start here last year, we managed to gain good ground. This time we have to make sure that we do better in qualifying to score a decent grid spot. The previous races make me feel confident that we’ll succeed. I’m expecting a good result.”
The break before Monaco is considerably shorter than before Rome. How do you feel about that?
“The break between Mexico and Rome was almost eight weeks, that was simply too long. Now we’re back in the flow. Formula E is a very complex championship where you have to think about a lot of things at the same time. The more often we can sit in the car and work with our engineers, the better it is for all of us. I’m pleased that the season continues at such a pace.”
Pascal Wehrlein, Porsche works driver (#94)
Formula E will be contested on the world-famous Grand Prix circuit in Monaco. What are the special features?
“The Monaco Grand Prix circuit is one of the coolest tracks in motor racing. To be at the front, you need a car with a lot of grip and good balance in the fast corners, but at the same time, doesn’t understeer too much in the tight turns like Rascasse. By Formula E standards, the track is quite long, so managing energy will play an important role.”
After the one-two result in Mexico, there wasn’t enough for a podium finish in Rome. What will you need to improve on in Monaco?
“In Rome, we weren’t competitive enough to win a race, but at least we earned points. Ultimately, we could’ve squeezed a bit more out of it here and there, but still, we weren’t unhappy. You can’t win a race every weekend. In Monaco, we’ll attempt to get the best out of our car and, above all, drive more efficiently.”
The Grand Prix circuit in the Principality is 3.337 kilometres long. This storied street circuit with its 19 corners has virtually no run-off zones – instead there are walls and barriers that are unforgiving of the slightest driving error. Efficient energy management and total concentration from start to finish are essential – this is the only way for the 22 cars to stick to the racing line and successfully navigate the winding labyrinth between luxury skyscrapers and high-end boutiques. With its combination of sometimes very tight corners and fast passages, the Circuit de Monaco is the perfect venue for the special requirements of Formula E.
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