Formula E's race around Monaco this year was properly good, the sort of thing you don't expect to see at a street circuit Formula One outgrew maybe a few decades back. Turns out all you need to do to make overtaking and close racing possible is make the cars two and a half feet shorter and a foot narrower, all while giving them electric torque with no dirty air. Amazing the FIA didn't think of it earlier, really.
Hamburg's Miniatur Wunderland, with Porsche, has gone a step further and reduced the entire Monte Carlo circuit to a 1:87 scale. The Porsche 99x Electric, as the marque's Formula E car is designated, has been reduced to just 2.3 inches long and has an equivalent top speed to the real world car: 33.5 inches per second. Scaled up, that's about 167 miles per hour—just shy of Formula E's 173 mph potential.
If you want to climb into a tiny Gen2 car then this careful recreation of Monaco is the place to do it. Built by brothers Gerrit and Frederik Braun, it's the latest in a series of car and motorsport-related projects at Miniatur Wunderland since 2015. Gerrit called it "our biggest challenge to date," and you can tell why.
The challenge lies in making not just a perfect recreation of the Riviera but that 20 tiny race cars can actually go hell-for-leather around it. The cars aren't per se autonomous, essentially running different commanded routines rather than actively racing each other, but software designed by Braun means that the action is about as real as it can be. The system responds within 0.05 of a second to where other cars are, so every race should have a different outcome—and the odd spectacular pile up, something Formula E's pretty familiar with.
There is, of course, a system in place if that happens, though. “Of course, we want to avoid that if at all possible because then the safety car has to come out and a couple of people are kept busy for some time,” Braun explained, to give you an idea of the level of detail involved.
The Monaco course will open in 2022 and Braun said that “We’ll alternate between Formula One and Formula E races. Everything true to the original, with parade lap, safety car, starting grid–and then action!”