From vision to reality
On Saturday, May 9, 2015, the streets of Monaco were ready to welcome the first Formula E race, just two weeks ahead of the Grand Prix F1, kicking off the European leg of the E-season. The competition drew over 20,000 spectators confirming the attraction of this eco-friendly competition. HSH Prince Albert, who has been a strong supporter of the ePrix from the very beginning, and made sure Monaco was included in the calendar of the FIA’s new Formula E Championship, was present at this important event. He visited the drivers in the paddocks accompanied by FIA President Jean Todt, who made it his mission to create a form of motorsport that creates awareness of the potential of sustainable technology; and Alejandro Agag of Formula Holdings, who was awarded the contract to run the series. After two years of hard work, their combined visions became a reality in the Beijing ePrix on September 2014. Plus the invaluable support of generous sponsors like Julius Baer (Global Partner), Michelin (Official Founding Partner & Tyre supplier), Renault (Official founding and Technical partner), Tag Heuer (Official Timekeeping partner), Qualcomm (Official Founding & Technology Partner), DHL (Official founding & Logistics partner), BMW i. (Official founding and vehicle partner) and Visa (Official payment services partner). Now the series became an established worldwide event, and the next challenge is to conquer the public.
Early crash followed by electrifying race
The stands were packed and there was an electrifying atmosphere. All 20 cars had a good start off the line but on the exit of turn one heading down JFK Avenue, there was a multiple car pile-up that saw Bruno Senna and Jaime Alguersuari both crash out in separate incidents. After the three leading cars got away unharmed Audi Sport’s Daniel Abt was bumped into the barriers, leaving Senna with no option but to slam into the back of Abt, sending his Mahindra Racing car airborne and it fell back to earth in a broken mess. As well as Senna, Abt and Alguersuari, Vitantonio Liuzzi, Loic Duval, Salvador Duran and Jean-Eric Vergne all suffered damage to their cars, ending their respective chances of a successful Monte Carlo ePrix. In the front of the pack Buemi has had a powerful start but the appearance of the safety car bunched the drivers together at the restart.
Buemi, Di Grassi and Piquet on the Podium
It was Swiss born, Monaco resident, Sebastien Buemi, driving for E.Dams-Renault, the reigning World Endurance Championship (WEC) driver’s champion who conquered the trophy in the Principality, now with a total of 83 total points in the driver’s standing. He went from pole to podium. He is the first driver with two wins in the FIA F-E Championship, adding Monaco to his victory in Punta del Este, Uruguay. “To win in Monaco is a great feeling,” Buemi said after the race. “I knew about this thing of everyone starting on pole and not winning the race, so it was good in the end to finally manage that, specially here as we could see it’s very difficult to overtake.”
Brazilian born, Monaco resident, Lucas Di Grassi, Audi Sport ABT, was a close second and thus remaining at the top with a total of 93 points, making it the fifth podium finish after seven races. He fought a hard battle following Buemi all through the 47 laps and missed a chance to take the lead after the pit stop. In the second part of the race Di Grassi was under duress but managed to fend off the capoeira moves from compatriot Nelson Piquet Jr. who was tailgating him but did not succeeded in passing him. “I wanted to attack from second on the grid and fight for the win, but unfortunately it didn’t work out,” said Lucas di Grassi. But he was happy to add: “Five races on the podium speaks for itself, and to be presented with a trophy by Prince Albert today is an extraordinary experience. However, what is even more important is that we come to Berlin as championship leader. With the support of the many fans and partners we aim to finish on the top step of the podium in Berlin.” It will be a home race for the ABT team. “This event in Monaco was Formula E at its best. Perfect organization, packed grandstands and enthusiastic fans,” says Hans-Jürgen Abt, the ABT team boss.
The podium was completed with Brazilian Nelson Piquet Jr., racing for NEXTE Team Chine, came third adding 15 points for a total of 89. Piquet Jr. twitted after the race: “Good Morning Monaco, it was good to be here and celebrate my first podium, see some old friend but now it’s time to focus on Berlin because the championship is really close and exciting.”
Sam Bird of Virgin Racing came fourth. Behind the top four, the rest of the points went to D’Ambrosio, Prost, Sarrazin, Charles Pic, Antonio Felix da Costa and Nick Heidfeld, while Scott Speed, eighth at the flag, was dropped back to 12th, right behind Jarno Trulli and ahead of Karun Chandhok.
Monaco e-Prix result (top-10):
- Sébastien Buemi (SUI) – E.Dams-Renault – 47 laps in 48min05s225
- Lucas di Grassi (BRA) – Audi Sport ABT – in 2s154
- Nelson Piquet Jr (BRA) – Nextev TCR – in 4s634
- Sam Bird (GBR) – Virgin Racing – in 4s801
- Jerôme D’Ambrosio (BEL) – Dragon Racing – in 5s881
- Nicolas Prost (FRA) – e.dams-Renault – in 111s032
- Stephane Sarrazin (FRA) – Venturi – in 26s472
- Scott Speed (EUA) – Andretti – in 41s138
- Charles Pic (FRA) – Nextev TCR – in 49s538
- Antonio Félix da Costa (POR) – Amlin Aguri – in52s658
Championship standings after Round 7:
- Lucas di Grassi – 93 points
- Nelson Piquet Jr – 89
- Sébastien Buemi – 83
- Nicolas Prost – 77
- Sam Bird – 64
In the teams’ classification, e.dams-Renault has made a significant step forward, the French team now has a 45 point lead over Audi Sport ABT (160 to 115) while Virgin Racing has closed up even further to NEXTEV TCR (94 to 93.) Among the results, worthy of note is the fact the Venturi team managed to get both its drivers into the points at this its home race with Sarrazin seventh and Heidfeld 10th.
A tour of the paddocks
Next stop is Berlin
The next E-race, the DHL Berlin ePrix is in two weeks held in the grounds of the former airport Tempelhof on Saturday, May 23, 2015, followed by Moscow and London.