until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Formula E

Formula E could still use different Monaco layout to F1

by Sam Smith
4 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

There is still some uncertainty over whether Formula E will use the full Formula 1 configuration of the Monaco Grand Prix track in 2021.

Formula E has so far used a truncated 1.1-mile version of the Monte Carlo circuit for its three previous events there but had indicated that this would change for its 2021 event.

The Race understands that the current intention is still to race on the full layout for what will be the fifth race of the first world championship campaign on May 8 – a date confirmed with yesterday’s calendar announcement.

However, the Formula E version of the F1 track could feature some modifications to corners, in what is believed to be an effort to back away from direct comparisons to other championships.

The changes are thought to potentially include modifications to the Portier and chicane sections of the track to differentiate between the circuit that F1, Formula 2 and the Porsche Supercup will use two weeks after Formula E.

Speaking to The Race, Formula E’s CEO Jamie Reigle described the specifics of the track as still having “a lot of uncertainty around the permits and exactly what’s going to happen”.

The Automobile Club de Monaco confirmed the date ahead of Formula E’s official communication yesterday in an effort to stop erroneous reports that racing in the principality would not take place for a second consecutive year because of COVID-19 disruption.

The debate over whether Formula E should race on the long Monaco circuit has raged since the first E-Prix in the principality in May 2015.

Monaco Formula E 2015

The previous Formula E configuration takes a sharp right at Sainte Devote onto a straight that brings the cars out at the harbourfront chicane.

A pile-up on that bypass straight eliminated five cars when the circuit was first used in 2015.

There were relatively few multi-car accidents in the 2017 and 2019 editions, but since the first Monaco race Formula E’s grid has grown from 18 to 24 cars.

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“I remember that when I first joined Formula E, there was this debate around ‘is the F1 track appropriate for Formula E?'” said Reigle.

“And that’s still hotly debated amongst our group. So on a personal level, I’m hopeful, but it’s not confirmed as yet.”

Many in Formula E believe the entire notion of comparing F1 and F2 lap times with Formula E is spurious.

Monaco Formula E 2017

Sebastien Buemi, who won the Monaco FE races in both 2015 and ’17, believes staying on the 1.1-mile circuit would be impossible with the modern 24-car grid anyway.

“24 cars on the small one, I think is very hard because basically, first of all, it’s nearly impossible to pass, which is obviously not very nice for the show,” Buemi told The Race.

“Secondly, I think at some point you have reached the limit.

“Qualifying is not going to be a problem because of the groups but imagine free practice and stuff like that.

“I also think it would be nice to be on the big one just because of the message as well.

“Now we have a stronger battery we are quicker and we have the attack boost, etc.”

Monaco Formula E 2019

Buemi, who took part in the F1 young driver test at Abu Dhabi last month and who often holds reserve duties for Red Bull and Alpha Tauri, believes that racing on the long circuit will allow Formula E to show how quicker its cars get with each generation of rules too.

“It’s nice to show improvement, so that next time you go there you will be quicker in the Gen3 car [in 2023],” he said.

“Today Formula 1 is faster than it’s ever been. But is the show actually much better than it’s ever been?

“I don’t know. I don’t think the show is necessarily related to the speed of the car.

“Of course, you want the cars to be faster, but is it really a must? I don’t know.

“I think that what you want to see is a nice, interesting race.”

The FIA and the ACM did not respond to The Race’s request for comment this week.

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