On Friday evening, Venturi owner Gildo Pastor and drivers Maro Engel and Stéphane Sarrazin were at the Brasserie de Monaco with the rest of their ePrix team for the launch of the latest edition of Maurice Cohen’s Monaco Monsieur.
Home grown favourite Maro Engel shared some thoughts with Monaco Life about tomorrow’s race: “Hopefully you’ll go home and say that was electrifying, and not just because we are relying on electrical energy. It’s a new series, a cool series and it’s attracting a new group of people, fans interested in technology as well as racing.”
Engel said that unlike the Grand Prix, ePrix is a one-day event that runs on a tight schedule. “Everything happens quickly, and you only have one lap in qualifying so you’ve got to make it count.”
Explaining that an ePrix car has 28 kWh, and each team has a car change in the middle of the hour-long race, Engel stated that it’s all about how the driver uses that energy.
“We all have the same energy, but you have different energy management and consumption strategies. It leads to races being very close in the end.”
He added, “We don’t have power steering so the wheel’s very heavy, and there’s a lot of vibrations and bumps. You definitely feel the strain on your body after the race.”
This is the first time Engel gets to race at home in Monaco with a racecar (he’s raced with a go-kart). “It’s a fantastic feeling with so many people cheering for you. It’s a special race for all the Venturi team members, and I hope that we can celebrate tomorrow with friends and family who live close by.”
Speaking about the future, Engel stated that “The future for all of us is more and more electric cars on the roads. Monaco and especially Prince Albert really back sustainability, and Gildo Pastor with Venturi has been a pioneer in electric cars long before there was the electric hype that we see today.”
The Monaco ePrix gets underway tomorrow with qualifying in the morning and the race itself from 2:30 pm. Although the all-electric formula is in its third season, this will be the second ePrix in Monaco. The cancelation of the event in Moscow in 2016 came too late for it to be rescheduled before the Monaco Grand Prix itself. This year the Grand Prix follows on Sunday, May 28.
The Monaco race is the round five of the Formula E’s calendar. According to the organisers, the Automobile Club, the Formula E series is a genuine research laboratory for car manufacturers, while also conveying new values to the world of racing without denying its basics. Capable of exceeding 225 km/h, the cars are equipped with a new two-level front wing and reinforced suspension arms this year. The other significant change in 2017 is the increase of the amount of energy produced by the regenerative brake to 150 kW.
The championship is fought over by ten teams, made up of two drivers in each event across the globe. Many of the drivers have Formula One credentials including Nick Heidfeld, Nelson Piquet Jr and current Formula E champion Sebastien Buemi.
Switzerland’s Buemi won the opening three rounds and is top of this year’s standings on 76 points. Second is Lucas di Grassi, the Brazilian star who won the first ever Formula E race in 2014, in Beijing. In third place is Nico Prost, the son of four-time Formula One champion Alain Prost. In the team standings Renault e.dams is well out in front with 122 points.
The Formula E version takes a hard right at Sainte Devote rather than carrying on up the hill to Monte Carlo. Then the track loops back down behind the pits and rejoins the GP layout at the chicane at the exit of the tunnel. The remainder of the circuit follows the traditional route around the Swimming Pool, through Rascasse and Antony Noghes corner and back to the start/finish straight.
Ticket prices for the e-Prix are considerably less expensive than for the Grand Prix itself. Prices start from €20 euros, and a third ticket is half-price. There is no charge for children under 16. Access to the eVillage at Quai Albert Ier is also free.
Article first published May 12, 2017.