Drivers have raised concerns about particular aspects of the track for tomorrow’s inaugural Rome E-Prix, including worries about the position of the starting grid and profile of the final chicane.
The Circuto Cittadino dell’EUR track is one of the longest on the ABB FIA Formula E Championship calendar at 1.77 miles and has a variety of corners as well as unusually high elevation changes.
Lucas di Grassi believes the major difficulty will come at the first corner, a tight hairpin which could cause problems on the opening lap.
“The only thing I don’t agree with and I don’t like is the starting grid,” the Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler driver told e-racing365.
“There are so many wide areas that we could have put the start somewhere else. It is in a very narrow place with a hairpin straight after and it’s never super good to start on a hairpin.
“There are super wide places after Turn 2 where we could have put the start, but the rest is all good.”
Renault e.dams’ Nico Prost agrees, and would have rather seen a different part of the track chosen as Turn 1.
“We’ve seen that when you have a really tight hairpin like in New York, it’s really a problem,” he told e-racing365.
“Here, in addition, there is a lot less space around. If they could have put the start into a 90-degree corner or something, it would have been better.”
Nick Heidfeld disagrees however, and doubts that moving the start line to a different part of the track would make much difference.
“After the start, each first corner is a problem,” he told e-racing365. “It doesn’t matter what it is!”
Instead, the Mahindra Racing driver is concerned that the angle of the start grid necessitates an extra set of lights to help drivers further down the field.
“I think they just have to put a repeater light because otherwise not everybody will be able to see the start,” he explained.
One pinch point on the circuit is the final chicane at the pit entry, which appears to be very tight.
It has received a mixed response, especially with di Grassi admitting it was an unavoidable aspect of the track layout.
“I don’t like that chicane but you can argue it’s tight, but it’s tight for everyone,” di Grassi said. This is part of racing in cities. You have to have some compromises.
“The only thing I don’t like is when compromises are done without a reason, like the starting grid. Otherwise, everything else is OK.”
Heidfeld, meanwhile, expects the chicane could turn out to be better than it looks.
“It seems very tight but in the sim it was OK. I will have to drive it first. Walking, it looks very tight but it doesn’t look ridiculous. It’s probably fine.”
In general, the circuit has received considerable praise with comparisons being drawn with Montreal and Monaco as a result of the elevation changes.
“It’s a really good track, to be honest,” said Prost. “It reminds me a little bit of Montreal. There is just the one chicane that looks a little bit tricky but otherwise, it’s a really good layout.
“I think Turn 4 and the braking for Turn 5 is going to be a big challenge. They’ve really set the standard high here and it’s really impressive organization.”