Can Lucas di Grassi defend his extremely narrow championship lead on the Côte d'Azur?
Finally: Formula E arrives in Europe at the weekend. With Monaco playing host this coming Saturday (May 9), the crucial stage of the season begins for ABT Sportsline and the international competition. The Monaco resident Lucas di Grassi, who starts as championship leader in the principality, starts from the best position.
Asia, South and North America - European motorsport fans have only been able to look on from afar so far. This now changes: the race in Monaco signals the end of season dash for the flag, which takes the drivers stopover in Berlin, Moscow and London. Still five races to go before the first FIA Formula E Champion in history is crowned. Can Lucas di Grassi defend his extremely narrow championship lead on the Côte d’Azur?
I have good memories of Monaco, I was on the podium here in GP3.
The Brazilian certainly enjoys a small home advantage. “I’ve lived in Monaco for years and often ride my bicycle along many sections of the track,” says di Grassi. He has also contested a Formula 1 Grand Prix in his adopted country - incidentally, competing in the 2010 Grand Prix were seven drivers from the current Formula E field. The anticipation is great: “It’s great that Formula E finally comes to Europe. You can feel the enormous interest of the fans and media. The seventh round will be a milestone from the racing aspect: with a solid team performance we aim to establish the best possible position for the end of season dash.”
Best possible position? Daniel Abt is well-versed about this. The 22-year old youngster grabbed the headlines last time out at Long Beach after taking the first pole position for a German, before dropping way down the running order after being handed a drive through penalty for no fault of his own. “After finishing third in Miami before, it could have been another top result. But this is now history,” says Abt. “I have good memories of Monaco, I was on the podium here in GP3. A successful result would also be the perfect gig for Berlin.” Only two weeks after Monaco follows Daniel Abt’s and his team’s home race in the German capital.
The circuit in Monaco is only 1.760 kilometers long and the shortest track on the calendar so far. It runs along the Formula 1 start-finish straight, before turning right and heading directly to the harbor. After a hairpin bend, it returns to familiar sections including Tabac and the Swimming Pool corner. The simulator calculates a fast qualifying lap to be around 48 seconds. The race lasts for 47 laps.
“Monaco has a very special place in motorsport. Fantastic that we will be a part of this tradition now with Formula E a highlight for the entire team,” says Team Boss Hans-Jürgen Abt. Preparation for the event was meticulous: during a stopover at the ABT headquarters in Donington, the four cars used by Daniel Abt and Lucas di Grassi went under the microscope once again. “It’s incredibly close in Formula E, just a small defect can decide a race,” says Abt. “Which is why we don’t aim to give 100 per cent in the dash for the flag, but in fact 110.” While ABT currently lurks in second place in the teams’ classification, Lucas di Grassi leads the drivers’ standings thanks to a win and three other podium finishes.