CHARLOTTE, NC – The fully electric FIA Formula E Championship, now in its third season, returns to FS1 on Saturday, May 13 (11:30 a.m. ET) with versatile motor sports broadcaster Bob Varsha hosting coverage from the Monaco ePrix.
After defending Formula E champion Sebastien Buemi got off to a perfect start to the season, winning the championship’s first three events, the points race got a lot tighter and a little more interesting after Lucas Di Grassi’s bold victory in Mexico City trimmed Buemi’s lead to just five points heading into Monaco.
The 1.097-mile, 12-turn Monaco ePrix circuit is a shortened version of the familiar Grand Prix course, as the Formula E version takes a hard right at Ste Devote rather than carrying on up the hill to Monte Carlo. From here, drivers run along the marina to the Nouvelle Chicane, where they make the hard right to rejoin the GP layout at the chicane at the exit of the tunnel. The remainder of the circuit follows the traditional route around the Swimming Pool, through Rascasse and Antony Noghes and back to the start/finish straight.
Varsha, who will be joined by Martin Haven and Nicki Shields, with analysis from driver Mike Conway, offers insight into where Formula E fits on the motor sports spectrum and what we can look for this weekend from Monaco on FS1:
FOX SPORTS: Monaco – like Le Mans, Daytona and Indianapolis, is synonymous with racing, so how important is it for Formula E to win over this city and its racing-knowledgeable fans long term and does racing in Monaco add to interest in Formula E?
VARSHA: The Formula E mission is to demonstrate the potential of clean electric power in the form of motorsports entertainment in major cities, where emissions-free mobility is most needed. I doubt that people associate Monaco with urban congestion, but the Principality is among a handful of cities that instantly attract worldwide attention, along with places like New York, Paris and Hong Kong, which are all part of the current Formula E schedule, but none of which are synonymous with motor sports. I think Monaco’s 75-year racing history, and Prince Albert’s activism when it comes to the environment, give the series added credibility and exposure.
FOX SPORTS: Well into its third season, where does the Formula E Championship stand in the racing world; what is left to do?
VARSHA: I like to call Formula E a “statement series,” in that the FIA and series founder Alejandro Agag are opening the sport to new audiences, while at the same time creating a platform for the development of technologies that can benefit our world. Racing has always pushed the boundaries of automotive performance and safety, and that is what Formula E is doing with clean power generation, motors and battery capability. There are skeptics out there, but I have yet to meet a real racer who isn’t curious about Formula E. And I think the fact that nine car manufacturers will field factory or factory-supported teams for season four, most recently BMW, while companies like Mercedes and Ferrari are looking closely at joining, speaks volumes.
FOX SPORTS: What are the two or three biggest storylines heading into Monaco?
VARSHA: The biggest storyline coming in is the astonishing twist in the championship battle in the last race at Mexico City, where Lucas di Grassi and Audi Sport Team Abt did the impossible, managing their available power to go from back to front to win. Meanwhile, Sebastien Buemi of Renault-e.dams, winner of the first three races of the season, struggled and watched his 29-point lead in the standings cut to just 5 by di Grassi. Game on! Monaco returns to the series calendar this year after a wild and crazy debut in season one, and then a hiatus in season two. So we’ll see whether the action will be as dramatic as it was last time around these famous streets.
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