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Formula E

A success or a failure?: Drivers react to inaugural Misano E-Prix

Last weekend Formula E visited the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli for the first time in its history, but how did the E-Prix go?

Misano
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To news overview © Simon Galloway / Formula E

Formula E's inaugural Misano E-Prix double-header was always going to be an event that would struggle to win drivers over, given that it was replacing their beloved Rome E-Prix.

Prior to last weekend, every Formula E race in Italy had been held in the Italian capital, using a circuit which was hailed by Sam Bird as "the best circuit we had in Formula E, one of the best in Formula E history actually".

Throughout the weekend, the majority of the drivers all stated the same thing, they want Rome to return. Pascal Wehrlein even mentioned this during the post-race press conference after winning the second event of the weekend. Even winning could not overcome the disappointment of not racing in Rome.

There is an obvious difference between racing in Rome and Misano, with that being the latter is a purpose-built circuit. Formula E is venturing to an increasing number of permanent venues, creating extreme peloton-style races where nobody wants to lead until the closing laps.

Because of this, most drivers dislike racing on purpose-built circuits and want the sport to return to its "roots" of the streets. With the cars getting faster though, racing on some street venues is becoming increasingly difficult, it is also extremely expensive.

Misano as a venue is absolutely beautiful and was enjoyable for the drivers over one-lap when pushing to the limit in qualifying, but it was a different story in both races.

The peloton for many was too dangerous particularly in Saturday's race, which was two laps longer and required more energy management. Even for some fans both at home and in the grandstands, the absurd number of position changes was too difficult to follow.

On the topic of fans, Formula E CEO Jeff Dodds recognised that the Misano World Circuit Marco Simocelli was not the simplest to reach. With the exception of when MotoGP is in town, the circuit also fails to record impressive attendances.

Despite this, the main grandstand alongside the start/finish straight was full for both races, whilst others were scattered around the circuit.

Going back to the racing though, and the overwhelming view amongst the drivers was that the style of racing was too extreme. Qualifying at least though, was enjoyable according to Wehrlein.

Preparation feels 'irrelevant'

"I think Jake [Dennis] said something really good that we probably expected it to be worse," said Wehrlein. "When we were on a push lap, the track feels actually nice and feels good.

"Certainly a few things which could have been different, like the track limits, and it's huge bumps, the sausage kerbs and so on. There are certain things which could have been better, but overall, I think yeah, it has been quite a nice ride for driving."

As mentioned, when it came to the races, it was a completely different story, with the style of racing making their efforts in the simulator feel incredibly frustrating.

"For the races, as I said before, I'm not a big fan of these chaotic races in the beginning," explained Wehrlein.

"And you know we spend so much time and energy in the simulator before coming to the race weekends, we try to optimise our settings, the energy setup and everything for half a tenth, we spend a few days and then come out here and qualifying is irrelevant.

"So it also feels like all the work you do [before you] come to that event, not saying it's irrelevant, but in the end, yes, it is a bit. So about the question if there there will be other tracks, I think all of us drivers are big fans of the Rome track. Hopefully we can go back there in the future."

When RacingNews365 asked McLaren's Jake Hughes if he thought the event had been a success, he pointed out that a large portion of that answer depends on the fans. However, in terms of how the drivers feel "internally", he spoke in similar fashion to Wehrlein.

"I don't think you'll find anyone that says that you like it," said Hughes. "It's a bit of a lottery, well it is a lottery.

"It feels like Sam [Bird], we have a pack race in Brazil comes out and he probably feels like he's cracked the pack racing. And then we come here and you're at the lap of the God sometimes to whether you get damage, whether you're down on energy, and it's just the type of racing.

"It's really hard to sort of get a consistent run of results in, and from that side of things that's why I don't like it."

			© Andrew Ferraro / Formula E
	© Andrew Ferraro / Formula E

Jaguar's Nick Cassidy opted not to comment, understandably so, to avoid potentially getting into trouble, unlike team-mate Mitch Evans who was another driver to state that they do not like the addition of purpose-built circuits.

"I don't think it's been a failure, that's maybe a little bit unfair, but success?" Evans questioned to RacingNews365. "I guess it's depends what the fans are saying. I think yesterday [Saturday], it was way too extreme.

"Today, it was maybe calmer, but maybe not as exciting. So like, maybe a medium ground would be better. I just don't really like these tracks with this particular car."

On the flip side, reigning world champion Jake Dennis rated the Misano weekend as a "pretty good success". The Andretti driver was a fan of the winner not being known until the final lap but did suggest that some changes could be made to the peloton racing.

"I think it's been a pretty good success," Dennis told RacingNews365. "It's the first proper energy race we've seen, Brazil was a little bit but not to this extreme. Definitely some areas to improve on, the chicane (turns 8 & 9) being one of them.

"But overall, I've been pretty happy with this event. I'm not too sure what the attendance was like but the Emotion Club (hospitality) looked amazing. The racing was exciting, you never knew who was going to win until the last lap. So from my side, everything has been a pretty good success."

Abt Cupra's Nico Müller missed out on the podium on Sunday by just 0.050 secs and also thought the weekend had been a success. In fact, the Swiss driver believes Formula E can make the races "even more extreme".

"I think it's shown that Formula E can be extremely diverse in terms of the show we deliver," Müller also told RacingNews365. "I think some people like one or the other kind of racing, more or less.

"And I think what it definitely didn't lack was spectacle and excitement until the end, especially yesterday. "Nobody really knew how it was going to turn out today, it was maybe a little bit more straightforward.

"I think we could go even more extreme, especially on double-header weekends to make these races very different from one day to the other."

Opinions clearly varied, with the event as a whole to be analysed in the next couple of weeks, before a decision is made whether Formula E will return to Misano next season.

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