Formula E has made several key track changes for this weekend’s Monaco E-Prix, including a last-minute relocation of the all-important attack zone area.
The 2021 event is the first time FE has used the full Monaco Grand Prix Formula 1 track configuration.
The Race can reveal that the initial plan of having the attack mode activation on the outside of the Grand Hotel (formerly Loews) hairpin has been swapped for an area at the left of the track at the Casino Square right-hander.
Drivers will now have to duck off line after the Massenet crest and left hand corner that leads into Casino Square.
The area of track drivers will use is directly in front of the historic Hotel Hermitage and they will be compromised because they will be rejoining the racing line at the undulating area of track on the run down to Mirabeau.
The initial plans for the attack mode zone to be at the hairpin led to an extension in the width of the corner, which is famous for being by far F1’s slowest corner with apex speeds of around 30mph.
That would have led to a smaller time loss than the diversion at Casino Square now will.
Jaguar’s Mitch Evans expects a problematic time for drivers trying to get back on line following their visit to the attack zone, but admitted any solution in Monaco was going to be a compromise.
“The outside of T4 [Casino] is an interesting choice, because I think the rejoin would be tricky with other guys on on the normal racing line,” he told The Race.
“I don’t think there’s any ideal positioning around Monaco to do the attack mode but there needs to be some sort of timeline around 1.5 to 2s [loss] to make it really interesting from a strategy point of view.”
The change will require extra simulator work from drivers this week, although the seven that were in action at the Spa World Endurance Championship race last week – Norman Nato, Sebastien Buemi, Antonio Felix da Costa, Stoffel Vandoorne, Nyck de Vries, Tom Blomqvist and Robin Frijns – were always going to undertake their Monaco FE sim time this week anyway. The extra sim work will focus on adjustments to the energy saving distribution of the activation lap.
Formula E is also believed to have decided now to revert to the precise F1 configuration of the first corner Sainte Devote.
Previously the intention was to make the corner slightly quicker and in keeping with the right-hander’s roots – which date back to Monaco’s first race in 1929 – with a more open trajectory.
The harbourside chicane will get a slight modification with some barrier and kerb changes that will mean a slower profile to the left/right/left/right complex after the tunnel.
It is understood that the drivers had pushed for Formula E to use the exact F1 version of Sainte Devote.
“I think it’s the right call to go back to the original F1 turn one for a number of reasons,” Evans said.
“The modifications they originally made would have taken away a passing opportunity and another regen point so it allows us to recuperate a bit more energy since the race could be potentially state of charge limited.
“The mods they [originally] made for T1 made it super, super quick, which, yes, would have been fun but could also have created a lot of damage.
“Also the apex of turn one and the pit exit would have been the same, which I think is definitely not normal and I don’t think is correct.”
But Mahindra driver Alex Lynn was among those who hoped the quicker version would be used.
“I actually liked the idea of a faster Saint Devote so it’s a shame we aren’t using that now,” Lynn told The Race.
“The attack zone change won’t make too much of a difference but it will likely be dirtier there than at the hairpin, but overall maybe less exciting ultimately in terms of the race itself.”