Formula E

"You can't prepare for anything like this": Taylor Barnard on Formula E debut with McLaren in Monaco

Svenja König

Svenja König


The unexpected often happens - even in Formula E. In the morning, Taylor Barnard had arrived at the track expecting to watch the race from the McLaren pits and prepare for the upcoming rookie test in Berlin. Less than three hours later, it was clear that he would become the youngest driver in Formula E history to contest the Monaco E-Prix.

"I was so nervous before the race - ten out of ten," the 19-year-old told, describing his emotional state before his first Formula E start. "I found out 20 minutes before the second free practice session that I would be driving. Then I just put on my suit and jumped into the car. But you can't prepare for that either. You just have to do it and get used to it as quickly as possible."

The free practice and qualifying sessions can undoubtedly be seen as a familiarisation phase, so the results are of secondary importance. In the race, he tried to save a lot of energy, especially at the start, and stay out of duels. One of his aims was to bring the car home in one piece. Not all drivers managed to do this, which meant that he also benefited from many retirements and unscheduled pit stops at the end. In the end, 14th place is a brilliant result.

"I'm very happy with the race. I was able to make up a few places and my energy management was really good, which I didn't expect. Starting last and finishing 14th - that's a good result."

"My highlight today was how maturely and calmly Taylor jumped into the car at the last second," said team boss Ian James in the team's Instagram story after the race. "That was an outstanding race from him, even though our day was characterised by Sam's accident in FP1. We obviously wish him all the best."

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Hughes crashes twice: "Race not run, but difficult to come back"

Thus, Barnard achieved a better result on his debut than team-mate Hughes, who finished 16th and thus confirmed his grid position. In the turmoil at the back of the midfield, the Briton collided with Sergio Sette Camara in the ERT during the first safety car phase and had to swap his front wing as a result. He then worked his way back up to 13th place, but clashed with Nico Müller in the rascasse with six laps to go. The McLaren driver tried to pass on the inside in attack mode and pushed Müller into the wall. The incident caused a safety car period. Hughes received a five-second time penalty for this, which ultimately dropped him from 13th to 16th place.

"My day actually started well," Hughes also said via Instagram. "We had the performance in practice but didn't get the tyres in the right window in qualifying. That set me back. In the race, we had to change the front wing after an incident. The race isn't run after that, but it's very difficult to come back afterwards."

Barnard: "Will prepare as best I can for Berlin"

There is no new information on Sam Bird's injury so far: He was taken to hospital after hitting the wall. His hand was x-rayed and a fracture was found in one of the hand bones. "I'm sorry for Sam, I hope he gets better quickly, even though it was a good opportunity for me," says Barnard.

This is not the first hand injury in Formula E: Robin Frijns and Sebastien Buemi also injured their hands after accidents with the Gen3 car. The Dutchman was even ruled out for several races. It is not yet known how soon Bird will be able to get back in the car. "I will prepare as well as possible for Berlin in case Sam is unable to start," says Barnard. McLaren CEO Zak Brown also hinted in an interview before the race that it might not be the last outing for the reserve driver.

We expect more detailed information in the next two weeks before the double-header in the German capital. He would not be the only replacement driver there: Envision, Mahindra and ABT also have to do without their regular drivers, albeit due to a clash of dates with the WEC. McLaren will now also need a new rookie driver there for the test on Monday.

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