Slower laps, better racing? How Formula E will compare to F1 as it tackles ‘full Monaco’

Formula E

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Formula E is racing at Monaco this weekend for the fourth time in the championship’s short history. And for the first time, the electric cars will tackle the full length Monte Carlo street circuit.

A few minor modifications have been made to the track F1 uses. Due to the much lower downforce levels generated by Formula E cars, some corners have been re-profiled and barriers adjusted. But Formula E will be tackling the full course, including iconic sections like the tunnel.

No one expects Formula E to be as fast as Formula 1 around the track – over a single lap, F1’s superior downforce and comparatively massive horsepower will always win. Previously, the fear of that comparison being drawn, as well as other limitations of the series’ first-generation cars, kept Formula E nervously confined to an abbreviated version of one of motorsport’s oldest and most famous tracks.

First practice suggested Formula E can probably expect full power qualifying laps to be somewhere around 12 seconds behind the F1 record. Which, given their relative weight and power deficit, surely makes Monaco the most flattering circuit for Formula E to make such a comparison to grand prix cars.

Formula E is racing through Monaco’s tunnel for the first time
But Formula E can expect its lower average speed may allow its cars to race more successfully at Monaco than F1’s do. Its second generation cars are substantially shorter and narrower than their F1 counterparts. Monaco’s confines may are constricting by F1’s standards, but generously wide for Formula E, especially when compared to tracks like Paris or Hong Kong.

Formula E previously held Monaco rounds every other season, having alternated years with the Historic Grand Prix until the unprecedented events of 2020. Of the three races held, victory has only ever been taken by former F1 drivers; Sebastien Buemi has two wins, Jean-Eric Vergne one.

After Vergne’s win in 2019 he insisted that Formula E should run the full circuit. But yesterday he admitted he never actually expected to be able to race it again, after leaving F1 in 2014.

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Mercedes Formula E driver and F1 reserve Stoffel Vandoorne won the GP2 feature race in Monaco in 2015 and said that he was glad to see the full circuit being run, “It’s really good that we’re moving to do the big circuit. The short track would have been really too small, I think, for 24 cars.

“Two years ago I think everyone had contact overtaking – it was impossible to overtake without having contact. I hope this track will provide more opportunities, we’ll still wait and see how much energy saving there will be, exactly but it’ll definitely be better for the show.

Vandoorne expects less contact in today’s race
“There’ll be more opportunities and the track is more suited for these cars now as well. So really looking forward to actually being back on track here.”

Oliver Rowland, who won the 2017 F2 feature race in Monaco and took a podium in the 2019 EPrix, said he was glad FE had moved to the full circuit. “I think we’d already outgrown the track so it was the sensible decision.

“After finishing second here last time it bodes well. I’ve always done well here, I won in F2 so hopefully we can continue that trend and have a good weekend and then kick start our season.”

Compared to some of the more rough-and-ready street tracks Formula E has raced on, Monaco is a smoother and more polished affair.

“I would say it’s a good level and it’s probably not like Rome where you get of jumps, undulations, lots to go wrong,” said Rowland. “It’s more like a clean street circuit, I would call it, so I don’t expect too many surprises.”

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Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a freelance journalist who roams the paddocks of Formula E, covering the technical and emotional elements of electric racing. Usually found at...

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  • 19 comments on “Slower laps, better racing? How Formula E will compare to F1 as it tackles ‘full Monaco’”

    1. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
      8th May 2021, 10:52

      To be fair this should really work. The track is much more suited to these cars. And everything looks iconic on those streets. A smart move.

      1. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
        8th May 2021, 10:53

        It feels finally like a gold ribband event for the series. The shortened circuit didn’t feel like that.

    2. Well they’ve burchered the Neuvelle Chichane for a start…

    3. Nice to see Monaco called a more smooth and polished affair; which it certainly is compared to most other Formula E tracks, and definitely is off track for all categories, while for F1 the street track air has given it a feel of improvising, even though it is probably the most professional improvisation that happens!

      Yeah, will be interesting to see these cars go a more full round here!

    4. First practice suggested Formula E can probably expect full power qualifying laps to be somewhere around 12 seconds behind the F1 record

      Don’t know where the calculator was, but this parody of racing just finished with a fastest facepalming time of 1:31.317s.
      Full 21 seconds slower than F1… maybe 12 is just a “21” with a typo, but anyway – just awful.

      I knew FE was some kind of amateur F2-F3 clone, but this goes even further. Go-karts on steroids.

      1. Cracker of a race, though. Best I’ve ever seen at Monaco in any series, I think.
        Who cares if they are a bit slower – just helps them to race better.

        1. I can’t watch even 5 minutes of any FE race… and find Monaco F1 race one of the most heart-pounding each year…
          I guess we are just from 2 parallel universes)

          and the only thing left to understand – how we both post on one website…

          1. This site covers both series, perhaps…?
            Whatever – your loss. I watch both, and many other series besides. Every racing series has something to offer – even F1… Occasionally.

        2. Agreed, great race and thrilling ending. There was a crazy amount of jostling and overtaking in the last sector. I just wish the CBS cameras were better positioned to capture it but overall, super enjoyable race!

      2. Don’t know where your calculator is but the F1 lap record in Monaco is a 1’14, FE lapped in the 1’31, which is at absolute worst 17 seconds slower so maybe have a quick check of your own figures.

        1. @hazelsouthwell Ow that’s embarrassing, you are comparing a lap record to a qualifying lap time. Lap records don’t include qualifying laps.

          Last pole time for F1 in Monaco was 1:10.166. So indeed 21 seconds faster than FE.

          Fastest lap for FE was 20 seconds slower than F1.

          1. @f1osaurus Great we’ll just cancel Formula E then, as everyone agrees it was dreadful.

            1. @hazelsouthwell I guess the egg on your face hurt, but … you’re welcome for me spending some of my incredibly precious time to teach you a bit about how fastest lap records work I guess.

              Maybe you are on to something though. I have seen great Clio cup and Porsche cup races at Monaco. Shall we just cancel F1 and FE only have those cup races?

            2. @F1osaurus honestly, why you spend your time at all commenting on Formula E articles when you hate the series, don’t care about it, think it should be got rid of and is an embarrassment I simply do not understand.

              Other people enjoy it. Just stop winding yourself up by reading about something you do not like. You know perfectly well it gets to me, if someone rolled in to say your work was boring and irrelevant every time you did some of it you’d presumably not be delighted.

              Thanks so much for your kind time donation, absolutely no need for any further ones.

            3. @hazelsouthwell I simply corrected a mistake. A mistake someone acting as a writer on a racing blog should not be making really.

              You can project your embarrassment as anger towards me or you can just take it as a learning experience.

              I guess it’s not nice to hear that you are doing a poor job, but you really should have known lap records don’t include quali laps and that the Q3 lap for Monaco was a lot faster. Especially when you choose to lecture someone on their “mistake”.

              Besides, I didn’t even say anything about FE and I hardly ever comment on FE articles in general, but why have a comment section if you don’t want to hear people’s opinions on how the FE series is devolving? People have good reasons not to like the changes made to FE.

              The only thing I tried to convey before is that you cannot expect everyone to be happy with the direction FE is taking. You can be hostile towards readers all you want, but that’s not going to change anything. In fact it just makes it worse

            4. @f1osaurus You have commented on plenty of Formula E articles just to make sure I and anyone else knows you don’t like them. Funnily enough, this does actually get into my head.

              I made a mistake, fine. It happens. it was an insanely busy weekend where I have been working very long hours and I didn’t google the right figure.

              Have an absolutely lovely day feeling good about yourself that you have once again annoyed me. I hope it brings you infinite happiness because, for the record, you make me feel super rubbish. Goals achieved, no doubt.

            5. @hazelsouthwell So you set out to make one of your readers feel like rubbish and then claim it’s unfair that I make you feel rubbish instead by simply pointing out that the original poster was in fact correct?

              Just wow.

    5. Faster than the Ferrari 312B3 driven by Alesi a couple weeks back.

    6. Diogo Martins
      10th May 2021, 21:32

      I love watching FE, even if some details annoy me… and am a fan of F1!
      But it is nice to put FE lap times into perspective!
      Last time that Porsche Supercup raced there they lapped 1’34, on slicks of course.
      FE still has a lot to grow but will quickly do so. Looking forward to Gen3 cars!

      Reply moderated

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