A new standings leader
Despite it looking like a TAG Heuer Porsche masterclass with the Porsche powertrains comfortably winning the first three events of Season 9, there has been one man who began to find himself always near the front: Nick Cassidy. The Envision Racing driver might have had a slow start to the GEN3 era, only picking up 10 points across the first three races, but his luck soon changed once we visited Hyderabad.
A third place in Cape Town, two second-place finishes in Hyderabad and São Paulo, and back-to-back wins in Berlin and Monaco have pushed Cassidy to the top of the Drivers’ World Championship. With 121 points to his name, and 20 points clear of Pascal Wehrlein (TAG Heuer Porsche), Cassidy is the new championship favourite with seven races left on the calendar.
Cassidy’s Monaco race day started with him finishing 21st in both Free Practice sessions and complaining of massive vibrations under braking on the radio. He then missed the Duels and qualified ninth before battling his way up the grid to take his third Formula E victory.
You don’t need pole to win in Monaco
With Cassidy winning from ninth, it proves that you don’t need to start in the first grid slot to win in Monte Carlo. Although, before this weekend’s race, the Julius Baer Pole Position holder in four of the last five Monaco E-Prix had gone on to win.
However, Formula E is currently on a crazy run where the last 12 polesitters have not won the race and haven’t even appeared on the podium in the previous eight races, including Monaco!
As well as all the drama of qualifying, Nissan’s Sacha Fenestraz’s time of 1m28.773s in the Semi Finals was the fastest lap of the complete circuit in Formula E’s history, averaging a speed of 135.324 km/h. That is not an unwelcome stat, especially as the young rookie also holds the lap for the fastest Formula E lap ever when he flew around the Cape Town circuit earlier this year.
Gen on Gen leap
As well as Fenestraz nailing the fastest ever lap we've seen around the full Monaco circuit, we saw the race run quicker than ever.
Last year in GEN2's swansong, after four years of development, Robin Frijns managed a 1m32.707s on the way to the TAG Heuer Fastest Lap in the 2022 Monaco E-Prix, driving the Envision-run Audi e-tron FE07. Not a slow lap by any means, but GEN3 brought in faster lap times, for a longer period of the race - culminating in Jake Dennis' TAG Heuer Fastest Lap being some 1.588 seconds quicker than the best a Formula E car had managed in Monaco before.
Dennis' 1m31.119s will be the time to beat as GEN3 continues its development trajectory in the seasons to come.
Lots of big climbers across the pack
As the likes of DS PENSKE and Porsche had unsatisfactory qualifying sessions and started further down the field, it would always be entertaining to see how many places they could make up throughout the E-Prix.
Stoffel Vandoorne and Jean-Eric Vergne (DS PENSKE) started at the back after having their lap times cancelled for a tyre pressure violation, but that didn’t stop them from getting into the points - Vergne finished in seventh, with Vandoorne in ninth. Between the two, they made up 27 positions in the race!
Master of Monaco 🙌 @NickCassidy_ had an incredible run through the streets at the #MonacoEPrix 😮💨 pic.twitter.com/bnV9LvtnaD— ABB FIA Formula E World Championship (@FIAFormulaE) May 8, 2023
The Avalanche Andretti of Jake Dennis also made up eight places on his way to another podium finish, as he drove from 11th and up to third to get his fifth podium of the season so far. His teammate didn’t have the same good fortunes, as Andre Lotterer retired early on in the race after contact with the wall.
Jaguar TCS Racing’s Mitch Evans battled to second, making up four positions after starting from sixth on the grid. His teammate Sam Bird was also on a charge, making up eight places laps from the end but eventually classified in 16th after a clash with ABT CUPRA’s Nico Mueller in the final stages.
There were 116 overtakes, to boot. Overtaking in Monaco tough? Not for our guys in machinery that's designed to allow for close racing and passing on even the trickiest of race tracks.
'You can't overtake in Monaco' 😏⚡️#MonacoEPrix pic.twitter.com/wvmcsgKV01— ABB FIA Formula E World Championship (@FIAFormulaE) May 6, 2023
More pain for Porsche
With so much potential and being the clear early favourites, Porsche has had to deal with lots of pressure over the course of the season. However, this weekend in Monaco, Wehrlein finally lost his championship lead, and Antonio Felix da Costa had a disaster after a puncture ruined his race.
“We have to say disappointing results,” Florian Modlinger, the Director of Factory Motorsport Formula E, said after the race. “When you see the race, Antonio came from P19 and progressed to P8. But then to have a puncture, it’s really disappointing.
“From Pascal, regarding the strategy, he was in the top 10 running, then when the Safety Car came, the race went flat out, which made overtaking impossible, and that’s the result, going home with zero points.”
Technically, that last point is no longer valid, as Wehrlein was promoted to tenth and got a single championship point when Sam Bird received a five-second post-race time penalty for his crash with Mueller.
“We showed in the first part season that we are competitive on other tracks, and we have to regroup now, analyse in detail and fight back in the coming seven races. Pascal was leading in the last races. Clearly, there is pressure there, but we are mid-season now, and we have to cope with this, progress, and look ahead."
Jaguar powertrains secure another win
It might have felt like Porsche's power was the way to go after the season's first three races, however, there's a new favourite around. Jaguar's powertrain, supplied to the works team and Envision, has won the last four consecutive races.
As well as the Jaguar consistency, there's also a new record set by both Evans and Cassidy as drivers from New Zealand. Between them both they have won all the races since São Paulo and until Monaco, securing the longest winning streak for a nationality seen in Formula E's history.