The ABB FIA Formula E World Championship returns to Monaco this Saturday (6 May) following a record-breaking weekend in Berlin, reigniting a rivalry between two icons of motorsport – Maserati and McLaren – after a 54-year hiatus, and unleashing the GEN3 race car for the first time on the most iconic street circuit in motorsport.
Going into Round 9 and the second half of the 16-race season, TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team retains the lead at the top of the Teams’ world championship and the Drivers’ standings with Pascal Wehrlein. But that lead has diminished since their dominant opening to the season with Nick Cassidy (Envision Racing) just four points behind having collected 68 points in the last four races compared to just 20 by Wehrlein.
Both leading drivers face fierce competition from the other 20 drivers at the spiritual home of motorsport where, one year ago, Formula E and the FIA unveiled the GEN3 – the fastest, lightest, most powerful and efficient electric race car ever built. It is the first formula car designed and optimised specifically for street racing, and fans will see ‘Fait Pour Monaco’ banners around the track celebrating the ‘Made For Monaco’ characteristics of the GEN3.
With the GEN3 racing for the first time in Monaco this weekend, it has already delivered against the high expectations of fans as Formula E records have been shattered recently. The most overtakes in a race (190), lead changes at the line (20), and different race leaders (eight) were all achieved in Round 7 in Berlin. The fastest-ever lap in the series was set in Round 5 at the Cape Town E-Prix. Sacha Fenestraz (Nissan Formula E Team) qualified for pole position with an average speed of 154.987km/h, the fastest lap in Formula E history.
While today’s drivers are making history in the GEN3, the upcoming race will also see two iconic motorsport names go head-to-head in Monaco for the first time in 56 years.
Maserati returned to motorsport with Formula E from this season, teaming up with the hometown Monaco Sports Group for a multi-year partnership to form the Maserati MSG Racing team with drivers Edoardo Mortara and Maximilian Günther.
McLaren also joined the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship for the first time this year as NEOM McLaren Formula E Team featuring drivers Jake Hughes and René Rast.
This Saturday, Maserati and McLaren will line up on a grid in Monaco for the first time since the Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix in 1969. Monaco was also the circuit where Maserati last secured top-tier single seater silverware even further back in 1957 – a season in which one of the sport’s all-time greats, the legendary Juan Manuel Fangio, won the last of his five Formula 1 World Championship titles.
Maximilian Günther and Maserati MSG Racing secured a first podium of the season in the last race in Berlin and will surely be looking to emulate the historic achievements of ‘El Maestro’ Fangio this weekend.
FORMULA E IN MONACO
The field will once again race up the hill through Mirabeau and the famous Casino Square, round the Grand Hotel Hairpin and through the Monaco tunnel ahead of the Nouvelle chicane – this year in its traditional configuration.
The streets of the Principality have played host to some of the biggest moments in motor racing history and Formula E has arguably showcased the best of motorsport in Monte Carlo since it switched to the Grand Prix circuit a couple of years ago. Season 6 champion António Félix da Costa claimed victory in Season 7 in one of the most exciting races in the history of Formula E, capping a first outing on the full Monaco circuit with an audacious overtake at the exit of the tunnel on the final lap of the race for the win.
The race saw 28 overtakes between the top six runners alone, with the lead changing six times – including an audacious move at Beau Rivage from Mitch Evans (Jaguar TCS Racing) on da Costa, before the Portuguese returned the favour on the final lap for the win.
This season, retaining the title looks to be a distant dream for Stoffel Vandoorne (DS PENSKE). With a best result of just sixth in São Paulo, the Belgian is 74 points from standings leader Wehrlein, the driver he pipped in the Principality last year.
More Monaco magic would soften the blow somewhat but it’s Vandoorne’s teammate, Jean-Éric Vergne, who is leading DS PENSKE’s efforts and sits 19 points from top spot after another podium last time out in Berlin.
Wehrlein has led the way for Porsche in the standings since Saudi Arabia, with a Diriyah win-double and a Mexico City podium from the opening eight rounds. It’s been a quieter spell recently, though, with Nick Cassidy in the Envision Racing-run Jaguar I-TYPE 6 the driver in form. After a win in Berlin, the Kiwi is just four points behind.
It’s now four podiums and a win for Cassidy since Wehrlein last lifted a trophy. DS PENSKE’s double champion Vergne is now third having steered to a textbook defensive victory in Hyderabad and finished a close second in Cape Town. He added silverware in Berlin and will be looking to apply further pressure in Monaco where he won back in 2019.
Jaguar’s I-TYPE 6 has looked like the car to beat since Hyderabad. Cassidy has led the charge for customers Envision Racing who sit just behind the German manufacturer in the standings, while the factory Jaguar TCS Racing team finally capitalised on its race-winning pace and energy management for a one-three result in São Paulo as Mitch Evans and teammate Sam Bird took to the podium.
Evans was 42 points away in the Drivers’ table heading to Berlin but a stunning maiden one-two in the German capital helped fire Round 7 winner Evans to within 24 points of the top.
MID-SEASON REVIEW: INTENSE COMPETITION
Season 9 is now 50% complete. The first eight races have seen six different winners from five different teams with only TAG Heuer Porsche steering both drivers to the top step. A total of 10 drivers have finished on the podium and every full-time driver has scored a point, while only one driver – Norman Nato (Nissan) – has yet to make the Duels in qualifying.
Some 18 drivers have led a lap so far in 2022/23 – a Formula E record – with every team managing to lead a race for at least a lap. The Jaguar-powered teams have led the most laps – Jaguar TCS Racing’s 65 to Envision Racing’s 64 – but neither lead the Teams’ world championship.
Pascal Wehrlein leads the championship heading to Monte Carlo but now just by four points; the closest it has been since he took the lead after winning race two in Diriyah. One pattern has emerged: the six drivers to win this season form the top six in the Drivers’ standings.
Berlin saw records smashed for lead changes and race leaders. Prior to the double-header in the German capital, the record number of lead changes – when recorded at the start-finish line – was eight, at Rome 2021, with the most different leaders in a single race being six, not seen since the days of GEN1 car changes in Miami in Season 1 and Putrajaya Season 2.
By contrast, Round 7 from Berlin saw eight different leaders exchange top spot some 20 times in 43 laps, and Round 8 saw seven exchange P1 16 times. Not a single retirement in Berlin either, for the fourth time – Tempelhof is the only circuit to see every driver finish a race.
The impressive list of former winners on the Monaco streets includes Fangio, Stirling Moss, Jack Brabham, Graham Hill, Jackie Stewart, Niki Lauda, Alain Prost, Michael Schumacher and Ayrton Senna, who won six times here, including a record five in a row.
“Monaco is Monaco, it’s just magic,” says Jean-Éric Vergne (DS PENSKE). Vergne is one of four drivers on the grid to have taken the chequered flag first in Formula E around Monte Carlo’s hallowed harbourfront, with a lights-to-flag masterclass on his way to Drivers’ championship number two back in 2018/19.
Sébastien Buemi (Envision Racing) is a double winner – the only driver to do so in Formula E – and the Swiss is hoping to stake a definitive claim to the “Electric Mr Monaco” moniker.
Da Costa’s win in Season 7 was unforgettable, and he has the potential to repeat in Season 9 driving the Teams’ table-topping Porsche 99X Electric.
THE FULL, TRADITIONAL MONACO CIRCUIT
For the 2022 Monaco E-Prix, the amended Nouvelle chicane made way for the full, traditional circuit layout around the Principality’s harbourfront and the same instantly-recognisable track – which has barely changed in layout in almost a century since its first running in 1929 – is in play for GEN3.
The 19-turn, 3.337 km track will see the all-electric cars climb the hill at Sainte Devote and travel through the iconic Casino Square, Mirabeau, Grand Hotel Hairpin and of course, the tunnel.
WHEN TO WATCH
Action gets underway with Free Practice 1 on Saturday from 08:30 AST (Arabian Standard Time), with Free Practice 2 from 10:10 AST. Qualifying follows at 11:40 AST and Round 9 starts at 16:00 AST.
Follow the action on-track as it happens in the brand new Race Centre. Keep across Live Timing – which includes a real-time interactive track map and the ability to follow your favourite driver during every session of every E-Prix.
There’s also exclusive extended highlights, detailed session reports, interviews, all the standings and results as well as data, insight and reaction from trackside.