GRR

2024 Formula E Monaco E-Prix | 7 talking points

29th April 2024
Simon Ostler

It’s been a hot and cold season for the Jaguar team and its drivers, but something clicked for the teams’ championship leaders in Monaco. Mitch Evans looked sharp for the first time this year, as he was comfortably the quickest driver in both practice sessions, while Nick Cassidy looks to be back on form after a tricky run of results in Sao Paulo, Tokyo and race one in Misano.

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1. Jaguar put on a strategic masterclass

But for a pair of mistakes in qualifying Jaguar looked dead set for a front-row lockout, but as it turned out the second-row was more than enough. Evans and Cassidy settled into third and fourth during the early laps but kicked into another gear when Pascal Wehrlein and then Vandoorne ahead opted for attack mode.

A brilliantly choreographed attack of Vandoorne as he took his second bite of attack mode saw both Jaguars pass the DS Penske driver and take over the lead of the race, and from there it was a strategic masterclass. Cassidy dropped back to allow Evans to take both of his attack modes unchallenged, the drivers then swapped positions to give Cassidy the same opportunity.

It was a perfect showcase of teamwork, made all the sweeter by a pair of drivers utterly bought into the project. The fact it was Cassidy who suggested to his own engineer that holding position in second place was the best option says everything you need to know about the spirit within the team. He’s also surely aware that he has now scored five podiums so far in 2024, a consistency that puts him in a strong second position in the championship.

Evans’ first win of the year was also his first appearance on the podium and gives his championship charge a much-needed boost.

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2. Vandoorne back on the podium

Stoffel Vandoorne had been absent from the Formula E podium since he won the world championship for Mercedes in 2022. A run of 23 races finally came to an end for the Belgian in Monaco as he was finally able to follow up a strong qualifying performance with decent pace in the race.

Vandoorne has generally been outperformed by his team-mate Jean-Éric Vergne, but he got the better of their exchange in the qualifying duels to eventually line up second on the grid. He led briefly, but was overhauled by the Jaguar strategy and from then on could only see off Vergne to take third.

The DS Penske team is continuing to shown signs of improvement throughout 2024, but its powertrain is still not quite a match for Jaguar, as evidenced here in Monaco.

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3. Wehrlein extends championship lead despite disappointment

Pascal Wehrlein took his third pole position of the season in Monaco as he made the most of a mistake by Mitch Evans in his semi-final, then saw off Vandoorne in the final. His pace over a single lap has been consistently strong, but he’s also proved the most consistent performer in race trim.

He scored points again in Monaco, and while a fifth-place finish in Monaco will be a noted disappointment from pole, he was stung by the strategic disadvantage of being a lone Porsche in battle with a pair of Jaguars and a pair of DS Penskes.

Forced to bite the bullet and dive for attack mode on lap two to avoid burning too much energy at the front of the field, Wehrlein immediately dropped to fifth as Vergne forced his way through at Mirabeau. And there he remained for the rest of the race, unable to make any inroads behind the steadfast defence of a DS Penske rear gunner.

It was a disappointing end to the weekend for the German, but another solid points finish sees him extend his lead in the championship to seven points at the halfway point.

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4. A troubling weekend for Andretti

Jake Dennis will be glad to leave Monaco after his worst weekend of the season so far. His run of podiums came to an end with a whimper as he came home last on the road.

The Andretti car is still at its worst in qualifying, and here its weaknesses were laid bare as Dennis and Nato lined up 18th and 19th on the grid. Things looked to get even worse as Nato made contact with the barriers on lap four, and then downright disastrous as Dennis came a cropper in the tunnel and dragged his injured car back to the pits.

Nato was able to at least salvage an impressive point for the team with a feisty recovery drive to pick off slower cars and finish tenth. Dennis meanwhile finished 19th to cap a miserable day in the office. He drops to third in the drivers’ standings, 13 points behind Wehrlein.

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5. Taylor Barnard makes his Formula E debut

An innocuous crash in practice saw Sam Bird walk away with a broken hand, which meant he was ruled out for the remainder of the weekend. It was McLaren’s 19-year-old reserve driver Taylor Barnard who stepped up to fill the gap, and did well to qualify only four tenths back from Nico Muller’s ABT Cupra.

He kept himself out of trouble at the start of the race and made steady progress in the wake of chaos ahead to finish 14th, ahead of his team-mate Jake Hughes. The extent of Bird’s injury remains to be seen, but he’ll be hoping to recover before the double header in Berlin in two weeks’ time.

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6. Envision in serious trouble

It could be pretty easy to forget that Envision are the reigning team’s champions in Formula E. With Jaguar power it seems inconceivable that this team is currently languishing eight in the standings. While the loss of Nick Cassidy is clear to see, the team is still boasting a talented driver line-up.

Yet, former champion Sébastien Buemi alongside Robin Frijns have scored just one podium finish apiece, with neither driver able to score in the past three races. This is team seemingly in free-fall right now, and it’s going to need an awful lot more than a change of luck to see that trend reversed.

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7. Bumper cars on the streets of Monte Carlo

Within motorsport circles Monaco is perhaps most famous these days as the circuit you can’t overtake on. That’s true in Formula 1 perhaps, but Formula E once again debunked the idea that racing around the streets of Monte Carlo has to be dull.

No corners were off-limits for a lunge to the inside during the race on Saturday. We of course had the obligatory moves into the Nouvelle Chicane, but we also saw overtaking into the incredibly high-speed entry to the Swimming Pool, while La Rascasse and Mirabeau also threw up plenty of opportunities.

It all threatened to get a little bit like bumper cars as Sébastien Buemi got rammed into the barriers at the Grand Hotel Hairpin, and we saw several other cars lose bodywork or worse during the race, but the action in the midfield of a Formula E race was as frenetic as ever.

Images courtesy of Motorsport Images

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