Are you ready to jump into a zero-emission era in the course of a single day? The Principality is definitely a first-class territory for automobile sports worldwide. Besides the most historical F1 Grand Prix and GP Historique, in the last few years it has been converted in an unprecedented ‘workshop platform’ for testing eco-mobility, combining tradition with innovation within a fancy environment. On Saturday, the 11th May 2019, Port Hercules hosted, for the third time, the ABB Formula E Championship, valid for FIA world classification, in cooperation with the iconic Automobile Club de Monaco.
A successful edition in any sense that made all international visitors to feel the unusually quiet and safe atmosphere of a ‘Smart City’. Thus, the Allianz E-village, held at Quai Antoine 1er, increased the idea of a joyful event in the name of sustainability and energy efficiency solutions where to test future eco-vehicles in world preview as well as to simulate the adrenaline on race. Besides its recreational approach to raise eco-awareness, Monaco E-Prix 2019 was primarily the occasion for 22 drivers part of 11 teams to show their best skills to achieve the podium at the best tech performance ever. Formule E, in fact, at its fifth Season, is gaining maturity being considered more intriguing and balanced in the view of unveiling the world champion in New York on July 2019.
After the last performance in Paris (27th April) that decreed the full victory of Robin Frijns (Envision Virgin Racing), undisputed king of the 2018-2019 season so far, all drivers were excited to deal with the Monegasque circuit, so historical, so glamorous, so competitive. Three super champions, including the naturalized Monegasque Lucas di Grassi, seven winners, six experts among which the former F1 driver Felipe Massa and six challengers, raised in F1 and trained in FE, made it a thrilling sport event.
At the end of a passionate 45-minute contest on the wheezing sound of electric race car, smoothly running side by side in pursuit of fastest time, Jean-Eric Vergne (DS Automobiles, Techeetah) conquered the podium keeping constantly on pole position. “An incredible feeling” being awarded by the Sovereign Prince in the presence of Jean Todt, president of FIA, and Pierre Casiraghi, as he highlighted at the press conference. Second place went to the emerging talent Oliver Rowland (Nissan e-dams), who gave his very best, while Felipe Massa (Venturi Formula E Team) best represented the Principality with his remarkable 3rd position skillfully conquered while racing.
All that is pushing a great ecologic message to the audience which is increasingly involved in this sport discipline also thanks to ICT tools. Social Media, in particular, played a key role in Monaco through #Fanboost, an app able to interrelate FE teams and their supporters who could attribute an extra power-boost (+ 25 kW) to the top-five most preferred drivers. In terms of technology, Formula E made giant steps forward at the Monegasque edition.
A second-generation of car batteries made it possible for all the teams to use only one car per race avoiding any swapping until the very last additional lap. Four groups made of six drivers have replaced the previous qualification system to better suit a new way of electric driving. A new “Attack Mode” was just introduced by giving the possibility to recover 25 extra kW while driving on a part of the track redesigned specifically for this race on Monegasque urban area. Something that could be decisive in Monaco urban circuit.
But what does it really mean driving a race electric car? HelloMonaco collected some feedbacks from a relevant protagonist of the Monegasque Formula E: the world champion Felipe Massa (F.M.), competing as an expert with the “made in Monaco” Venturi Formula E team, crown jewel of Gildo Pallanca Pastor, first supporter of Alejandro Agag, president and founder of FE.
HelloMonaco: Mr Massa, what is different driving a FE racing car instead of a F1?
F.M.: The initial approach is the same, that is trying to better understand the circuit. Of course, living here in Monaco helps me to know more about the local race track. That could help me just a bit since the final outcome is always unpredictable being a combination between knowledge and luck. Nevertheless, driving a Formula E race car is completely different starting from the engine, powered by a battery, going to the tire tracks used, just normal in FE and special in F1 (larger and grip-track equipped). From the car design, with different aerodynamics, to the type of track and qualification system. All that makes this championship challenging and exciting at the same time. I am fully determined to fight for a championship in a sport discipline that will be undoubtedly improving year after year.
HelloMonaco: What about facing the circuit as a FE driver?
F.M.: Basically, the Monegasque circuit is not one of the toughest, being other sites definitely more tricking.
Robin Frijns (R.F.), leading FE champion, was of the same mind. HelloMonaco asked him about Monaco E-Prix 2019.
HelloMonaco: Mr Frijns, how do you feel racing in Monaco?
R.F.: Monaco is a track where everybody would like to win being a legendary setting for many decades. From the technical point of view, it is very small and not particularly sticky. I am ready to be competitive as in the previous performances counting on high-tech vehicles and seeking for qualifying.
And what counts most during the race? HelloMonaco asked Daniel Abt (D.A.), FE champion part of Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler team.
D.A.: More than anything else, the challenging part is staying on track and being as quicker as you can despite any hurdle.
To sum up: Formula E represents a major driving force to promote innovation on energy efficiency and green mobility, corner stones of smart cities, as pointed out by H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco, and Jean Todt, FIA president, attending FIA Smart Cities Talk at Grimaldi Forum on the 10th May 2019. “FE is important for different reasons and primarily to push electric vehicle use which is getting closer to 8 million globally after just five, six years”, concluded Alejandro Agag, father of FE at the same occasion. Waiting for the ‘green mobility’ shift, let us get ready for the next E-Prix in Berlin on the 25th May.