Why Monaco’s ePrix Is Overtaking The Grand Prix

By Jeremy Taylor & Jessica Talbot-Ponsonby

3 weeks ago

This weekend, the illustrious and legendary Grand Prix will return to Monaco – but here's why heads are turning to the ePrix instead...

This weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix has an illustrious history but the electric ePrix is equally thrilling. Motoring editor Jeremy Taylor and sustainable fashion expert Jessica Talbot-Ponsonby join the Monegasques.

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A racecar in Monaco

What Is The Monaco ePrix?

JT – Here’s an interesting dinner table fact – the circuit layout for the Monaco Grand Prix hasn’t changed since the inaugural running of the Formula One World Championship in 1950. It also takes 250 construction workers six weeks to set up the two-mile course – but only three weeks to take it down again.

J-TP – Which means all those Monegasque millionaires are living on a construction site for at least two months of the year!

Monaco is probably the most famous grand prix in the racing calendar, though. The legendary Ayrton Senna claimed a record six victories, Lewis Hamilton holds the lap record at one minute and 10 seconds, while the oldest driver was 55-year-old Louis Chiron, back in 1955.

So there’s hope for you, then! All that raucous engine noise is fine, but we were there to watch the electric ePrix last month. It was the seventh running of the event, with Australians Mitch Evans and Nick Cassidy claiming a one-two victory for Jaguar.

Monaco at night

The race follows the same route as the Grand Prix and, although some might think a lack of turbocharged roar detracts from the occasion, they would be very wrong! The ePrix has all the drama and razzamatazz, plus a smattering of celebs.

Yes, I think you were more interested in Taylor Swift than the world’s first net zero carbon race cars, while I ran into Anthony Joshua in the VIP lounge.

I’m saying nothing. Monaco is the tightest racetrack in the world, so those battery-powered ePrix cars can’t achieve anything like their 200mph top speed. However, they are 30 per cent faster than an F1 car off the starting grid and more than twice as efficient.

Facade of the Hôtel Hermitage

The latest ePrix single-seaters are about as sustainable as it gets in motorsport. The organisers insist teams have a sustainable supply chain, while the suppliers of the battery cell minerals are selected on ethical grounds.

And the best place to watch either race in Monaco is?

Well, I’d suggest leaving the superyacht at home and trying the Belle Epoque palace that is Hotel Hermitage. Apart from complimentary access to legendary Casino de Monte-Carlo and the nearby Beach Club, the hotel has terraces that offer incredible views over the bay where all the action takes place.

That includes the Beau Rivage Straight, Sainte Devote Corner and more.  Wander down from your five-star suite and watch the action unfold.

Casino Square, Monaco

Casino Square, Monaco

Yes, the irony of living in wealthy Monaco is that it’s incredibly beautiful but probably the worst place in the world to drive a supercar. Small is the order of day, something like the Citroen Ami. You might then manage a tiny space in Place du Casino, where Ferraris sometimes fear to tread.

And we should also mention the newly opened Amazonico restaurant there, overlooking the square. It’s even more glamorous than the one in London’s Berkeley Square – the perfect place to eat and people-watch at the same time.

Indeed, while downstairs is the more traditional and exclusive Café de Paris, a legend in its own lunchtime.

And home of the crepe Suzette, first created in the restaurant in 1986 for a visit by the then Prince of Wales. Another fabulous, flambeed fact my taste buds won’t forget in a hurry.


Discover more about Monaco at visitmonaco.com

Jessica Talbot-Ponsonby is Director of Programmes at London College of Fashion, studying for a PhD in sustainable e-textile design.