Noor Amylia Hilda travelled from her home in Malaysia to last weekend’s Monaco E-Prix. Here’s her report on an exciting weekend in the Millionaire’s Playground.
The view coming into Monaco by coach from Nice is enough to make you giddy with excitement for the adventures that lie ahead. Arriving in Monaco on Thursday around noon, we made our way to our Airbnb in Monaco-Ville, also known as Le Rocher, the old-town district where the Prince’s Palace is situated. Perched atop of the hill, this is a great location for any race weekend in the principality as the roads leading to the area are not as affected by closures. Not to mention the breathtaking views of the harbour and the Mediterranean from this district.
This was my second trip to Monaco as media for the ABB FIA Formula E Monaco EPrix and it’s always been one of my favourite places to visit. As a motorsport fan, you just can’t beat a venue with this much historical significance. The glamorous views and lovely weather help, as well.
Once we’d picked up our media passes, we headed straight to the pitlane which usually remains closed to the media on Thursday. The Thursday of a Formula E weekend is also known as “build day,” where final touches are laid to the circuit and paddock. There was not much activity going on, although some of the drivers, mostly those who have homes nearby, could be seen hanging around their garages and chatting to team members and fans. The Monaco ePrix offers one of the calendar’s best opportunities for getting up close to the teams and drivers. A handful of fans were waiting outside the pitlane to catch a glimpse of their favourite drivers and most of them managed to get an autograph or even a quick chat.
Media Day: No shakedown, Aston Martin goes electric & tension fills the air
The pitlane was already buzzing with activity on Friday morning as the drivers and team personnel attended to their media duties. A big crowd-puller on the day was Aston Martin’s showcase of their first all-electric car, the Rapide E. Multiple Le Mans winner Darren Turner was in attendance, ready to take the car on its first public demonstration before the race on Saturday.
This time, there was no shakedown held during the weekend and the roads were still open to the public. This made for a rather unusual track walk for the teams as the roads were still as busy as ever while they were out inspecting the track.
There’s no denying that there was a certain tension in the pitlane as we get closer to the end of the season. With a new race winner crowned at every round so far, the competition is getting even more intense. With not much else to do in the media centre, it was time to retire for the day with a drink or two at the nearby Brassiere de Monaco, a hotspot for seeing drivers.
Race Day: Royals and VIPs, shorter circuit controversy, Vergne steals victory
Crowds were already starting to gather in the grandstands when the first free practice session got underway before 8am. Monaco boasts some great corners but possibly the best grandstand views are the ones by the harbour and the La Rascasse corner where it the spectators were most concentrated. (All grandstand tickets for the event cost 30 EUR, learn more here).
The best views were definitely found in the E-Motion club next to the harbour, overlooking the pitlane. The viewing area boasts some of the best views on the Formula E calendar. The E-Village was packed with spectators checking out the displays and activities by ABB, Heineken, Audi and of course the most popular attraction, the simulators. Being Monaco, there was plenty of VIP spotting to be had. Prince Albert was there of course, joined by Hollywood stars Naomie Harris, Luke Evans and model David Gandy making it a star-studded event.
It was an exhilarating race despite the difficulties in overtaking. A number of penalties and the attack mode conspired to make the race ever more unpredictable. Formula E runs on a shortened version of the Formula 1 circuit in Monaco, but this didn’t end up making the race any less exciting even though the race winner Jean-Éric Vergne compared this to “going to a three-Michelin starred restaurant and ordering a hamburger.”
All-in-all it was a nice to see the all-electric championship make a return to Monaco, a special venue that will always remain unique in any race calendar.