Thursday in Montreal, Canada. What a place to be.
In our opinion, this could be the best street track that Formula E has ever put together. There are elevation changes; fast corners and faster straights; an open, IndyCar-style pitlane; and the route feels incredibly embedded within the heart of the city, lined with an eclectic mix of houses, apartments, churches, industrial buildings, a bridge and even a radio station tower block. (Check out these amazing images from our photographic partner, Spacesuit Media).
The attention to detail here is staggering. Even the concrete barriers which line the track have been cast with the symbol of Montreal. There’s certainly been a lot of disruption to local residents but most forms of public transport will be free of charge over the race weekend to make up for it. We travelled to the other side of the city later on and there are major roadworks everywhere: slow traffic is simply a fact of life in this city at the moment.
The open pitlane will make things tricky on Saturday and Sunday when teams need to get the cars back to the garage for charging between sessions. According to some of the team engineers, even losing 10 minutes of charging time could spell disaster for the data-gathering runs early in the say. However, being able to see all car swaps taking place outside the confines of the garage will be fantastic for spectators and TV audiences alike.
Teams are cautious about their chances this weekend. The drivers we’ve spoken to all love the track from their simulator sessions but the fast sections will make it tough on powertrains. Battery temperature has been an issue with some teams and, while the ambient temperatures aren’t going to be too hot here on the weekend, the fast nature of the track may make this an issue.
The DSVR guys think they ought to have a good weekend after the extraordinary performances of NYC but the returning Lopez has quite some making up to follow Lynn’s stonking debut. Jaguar would like to bag P7 in the teams’ standings at least by the end of the weekend while, at the front, Renault will be looking to wrap things up on Saturday. Behind them, Mahindra could take ABT if they can keep their nerve and avoid any daft mistakes like the pit lane mix-up in Berlin or the tag team antics in Mexico and Rosenqvist could be on for an astonishing finish to his season.
But the real story of the weekend is, of course, Buemi and di Grassi. Can Buemi hold his nerve? He’s lost his composure under pressure in the past but this season we’ve seen a much calmer, cooler Swiss racer. Will di Grassi keep it clean? The spectre of that huge smash at the season finale in London last year (the was-it-wasn’t-it debate will rage on for years to come) plus the ridiculous cat-and-mouse display afterwards means di Grassi has to drive a cleaner race than ever before if he wants to walk away from this season with dignity, whether or not he wins the crown.
Is it di Grassi’s time to shine? Or will Buemi simply waltz off into the distance? Formula E is rarely predictable. It’s going to be a great track and a great end to the season. If you do one thing this weekend, keep it Current E.