198 days after the Berlin E-Prix, the Formula E season gets underway again in Diriyah.
For the first time, the FIA awards an official World Championship title at the end of the seventh championship year. On Friday and Saturday (26 /27 February), the first two night races in Formula E history are scheduled in Diriyah.
Last but not least, the special COVID-19 circumstances of this year’s event pose new challenges for the teams (the original start of the season in Chile was postponed because of this). The track will be illuminated by energy-saving LED floodlights, provided by the company responsible for the Formula 1 race in Singapore. The energy required is to come exclusively from renewable sources.
In the first half of the 18th century, Diriyah was one of the most influential cities in the Arabian Peninsula. As the centre of power and capital of the first Saudi state, it even outshone the present-day metropolis of Riyadh. However, after a siege by the Ottomans in 1818, historic Diriyah was almost completely destroyed. The historic old town is today an archaeologically valuable excavation site. The At-Turaif district has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2010. The modern Diriyah, which will host Formula E this weekend, was not built until the 1970s. The racing event is one of the biggest events of the year in the city of 30,000 inhabitants.
Over a distance of 2.495 kilometres and 21 turns, the street circuit demands a lot from man and machine. The first two-thirds of the track is particularly demanding, with numerous tight and sweeping S-curves requiring skilful use of the power pedal. Before the start of the 2021 season, large parts of the track were resurfaced and the radius of turn 9 was changed. The adjustments are likely to not only have an impact on driving performance but also change energy management strategies, as Antonio Felix da Costa revealed to us. The best overtaking opportunity continues to be the 90-degree right-hander (turn 18) at the end of the start straight. On the outside of turn 19, as in the previous year, is the attack zone, where the drivers can activate their 235-kW mode.
The schedule for the race weekend:
The first practice session will start on Thursday at 4. 15 p. m. CET. The second practice session will take place on Friday at 12 p. m. CET. Also, on Friday, qualifying for the first race (2 p. m. CET) and the first race (6. 03 p. m. CET) will take place. On Saturday, the third practice session will take place at 11. 45 p. m. CET as well as the qualifying for the second race (2 p. m. CET) and the second race (6. 03 p. m. CET).