Friday favourite: The "old fashioned" Macau-like Formula E venue

Drivers who like street circuits are spoiled for choice in Formula E. For Lucas di Grassi, the updated Rome track that made its debut last year is the best of them all and merits comparison with the revered Macau circuit, despite its imperfections

Friday favourite: The "old fashioned" Macau-like Formula E venue

It doesn’t have the catchiest of names, but what the Circuito Cittadino dell'EUR lacks in that department it makes up for as a spectacle for Formula E racing.

The Rome venue’s 19-turn 2.103-mile layout that first appeared in 2021 is longer than the original track that hosted FE in 2018 and 2019, but that fact doesn’t bother Lucas di Grassi, who labels it “a mini-Macau”. And as the 2005 Macau GP winner, beating Formula 3 returnee Robert Kubica to announce himself as a serious talent to watch, the Brazilian should know.

“Of course Macau is one of my favourites as well, but I would say Rome and Macau have very similar qualities,” says the 2016-17 Formula E champion. “You have jumps, different tarmacs, different grips, high-speed and difficult braking, uphill, downhill. The current Rome, the one we raced last year, is not only my favourite but probably the most difficult track we have in the world championship motorsport calendar.”

Di Grassi explains that Rome is “like an old fashioned track” full of imperfections that make it considerably more challenging than the best-known track on Formula E’s street circuit-heavy calendar, the ultra-smooth Monaco.

“People don’t realise, by being not perfect, it’s actually much more difficult to drive than a perfect track,” the Venturi driver points out. “Probably the easiest track for us to drive is Monaco because it’s so perfect and so flat that it’s very straightforward to set up the car. You go as low as possible, you don’t encounter any different grip in any corner. In Rome you have corners with the tarmac going your way, you have tarmac that has no grip, lots of grip. you have downhill, you have a jump, after that you have a compression, then a very narrow section, a very long hairpin, you have an S, a change in tarmac, you have everything to make the track difficult. And It’s very high-speed, you reach speeds over 240km/h on the back straight in qualifying mode.”

Di Grassi feels the Rome Formula E circuit is one of the toughest on the calendar

Di Grassi feels the Rome Formula E circuit is one of the toughest on the calendar

Photo by: Audi Communications Motorsport

Di Grassi says the old Rome track was one he “really enjoyed straight away”, coming through from sixth to second on his first time there.

“But the new Rome I think is better still,” he says. “After corner two or three, it extended that part, and it changed this long straight which is like a left, very fast right-hander, and then a very fast left-hander, before it was just like an uphill roughly straight, now it’s a high-speed corner.”

To be fast on the circuit, with its quick-fire series of corners, di Grassi says “you need to know where to push and you cannot over-push. Like Macau, you need to build up your confidence and to build up the rhythm, it’s not just something you can arrive and go flat-out. If you do a small mistake, you can run a bit wide and bang.”

“I’m half-Italian as well, more than half actually, more like 80% Italian, so it’s almost like a little bit of my home race as well” Lucas di Grassi

Last year di Grassi was very unfortunate not to win when his Audi e-tron FE07’s driveshaft failed while leading with three laps to go. But it hasn’t dented his enthusiasm for the track and of added appeal to Di Grassi is his Italian heritage.

“I’m half-Italian as well, more than half actually,” he says. “More like 80% Italian, so it’s almost like a little bit of my home race as well.”

He doesn’t have long to wait before sampling the track with his new team in the double-header weekend of 9-10 April.

Di Grassi was unfortunate not to win in Rome for Audi when his driveshaft failed while leading with three laps to go

Di Grassi was unfortunate not to win in Rome for Audi when his driveshaft failed while leading with three laps to go

Photo by: Audi Communications Motorsport

shares
comments
Di Grassi doesn’t expect many Formula E track changes for Gen3
Previous article

Di Grassi doesn’t expect many Formula E track changes for Gen3

Next article

How a Formula E mainstay's new home is helping it prepare for Gen3

How a Formula E mainstay's new home is helping it prepare for Gen3
How Jaguar got its teeth into Formula E's Gen3 development race Plus

How Jaguar got its teeth into Formula E's Gen3 development race

With Mercedes gone and DS moving teams, Jaguar has a big opportunity at the start of Formula E's Gen3 era. The technical challenges in understanding the new car have been vast, with senior figures James Barclay and Phil Charles outlining to Autosport the pitfalls along the way

Formula E
Dec 1, 2022
The top 10 Formula E drivers of 2021-22 Plus

The top 10 Formula E drivers of 2021-22

After a wild 2020-21 season, this year's Formula E campaign had a much stronger narrative to it, but ended with the same result as a driver from the Silver Arrows squad triumphed. Here's our guide to those who shone brightest during the campaign

Formula E
Oct 1, 2022
The trait Vandoorne rediscovered to claim Formula E's era-ending title Plus

The trait Vandoorne rediscovered to claim Formula E's era-ending title

After Nyck de Vries was crowned Formula E champion in 2021, his Mercedes team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne stepped forward this season as the Gen2 era and his team bowed out. As he did on the way to the GP2 crown in 2015, the Belgian achieved a peerless level of consistency and was only outside the points once, with his sole win in Monaco sufficient to head off a chasing pack headed by Mitch Evans

Formula E
Sep 19, 2022
Why Bird can bounce back after a tough 2021-22 Formula E season Plus

Why Bird can bounce back after a tough 2021-22 Formula E season

With his winning streak coming to an end this season, the 2021-22 Formula E season was tumultuous for Sam Bird, failing to gather momentum as Jaguar generally struggled. But the long-term favourite looks forward to bouncing back next season as the championship enters its new era

Formula E
Aug 30, 2022
What Formula E needs next after saying goodbye to Gen2 Plus

What Formula E needs next after saying goodbye to Gen2

The 2021-2022 Formula E season finale brought the curtain down on the Gen2 era of the all-electric world championship. It elevated FE to new heights, fulfilling its intended directive. While it is a good launching pad for the impending Gen3 cycle, there are certain aspects the series must tackle for the new era to have the same impact as its predecessor

Formula E
Aug 16, 2022
The traits behind Vandoorne's triumphant Formula E title charge Plus

The traits behind Vandoorne's triumphant Formula E title charge

The odds were heavily stacked in Stoffel Vandoorne’s favour to capture the Formula E crown at the Seoul finale, but chief rival Mitch Evans applied maximum pressure with victory in the first race. It meant Vandoorne had to show his resolve to reproduce the key qualities he held all season to complete his march to the title

Formula E
Aug 15, 2022
Can anyone beat Stoffel Vandoorne to the Formula E title? Plus

Can anyone beat Stoffel Vandoorne to the Formula E title?

Stoffel Vandoorne is on the brink of the Formula E title with a commanding lead ahead of the Seoul finale, but both rivals and unknowns still stand in his way. Here’s a run through of what Vandoorne must overcome to clinch the championship and how his competition will look to pull off the biggest of shocks

Formula E
Aug 10, 2022
How Formula E's most underrated driver is taming his Dragon Plus

How Formula E's most underrated driver is taming his Dragon

It might not look like the most glittering of Formula E campaigns, but Dragon Penske’s youngster has caught the eye of those who count despite his future remaining unclear. Regardless of the distortion, Sergio Sette Camara has a clear vision of what he’s focused on and how to get there

Formula E
Aug 4, 2022