Rounds 2 and 3 in the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship take place this Friday and Saturday with the 2023 CORE Diriyah E-Prix in Saudi Arabia featuring the first double-header of Season 9 and the only night races on the 16-race calendar.
Following a memorable season opener with the 2023 Hankook Mexico City E-Prix on 14 January, the all-new GEN3 will compete in the Middle East for the first time giving fans the opportunity to see a race car performing at the very limit of innovation and pushing the boundaries of EV technology.
The 2.495km Diriyah Street Circuit is on the outskirts of the Saudi capital, Riyadh, and follows the historic city walls of the UNESCO World Heritage site. With 21 twists and turns, the technical first sector leads to a snaking Bobsleigh Run at turn six with a series of fast changes and quick turns in succession. Diriyah is a firm favourite for drivers as one of the most demanding circuits on the calendar for balancing energy management and outright pace.
The 2023 CORE Diriyah E-Prix Round 2 gets underway at 20:00 KSA time on Friday 27 January followed by Round 3 on Saturday 28 January, also at 20:00.
As part of the race weekend, American singer-songwriter Miguel, DJ Martin Garrix and French Montana, American singer John Legend, Egyptian stars Hamaki and Mahmoud El Esseily and DJ Loush will all be performing in the after-race concerts.
AS IT STANDS
Avalanche Andretti Formula E team driver Jake Dennis tops the Drivers’ World Championship after winning the first race of the third generation of Formula E with a dominant drive in Mexico City, having earned front row in qualifying.
Pascal Wehrlein (TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team) followed home in second – the pair 11 seconds clear of third-placed Lucas di Grassi for Mahindra Racing in a hard-fought first race for the Anglo-Indian team.
Dennis and Wehrlein were among four of the top seven cars across the line to feature the Porsche 99X Electric Gen3 power train, putting Avalanche Andretti and TAG Heuer Porsche at the top of the Teams’ Championship.
Early-season favourites DS PENSKE finished unexpectedly in mid-pack, something not many predicted after DS-powered Maserati MSG Racing posted the benchmark time of the week and had topped five of seven timed sessions in pre-season testing in Valencia, with both DS PENSKE drivers Stoffel Vandoorne and Jean-Éric Vergne also in the top three.
As it happened, reigning champion Vandoorne and double champion JEV qualified outside the top 10 ahead of Round 1, and Vandoorne recovered only four spots to take a point with 10th at the chequered flag. Vergne ran in mid-pack too before he misjudged an overtake and clipped Sacha Fenestraz to finish 12th.
NEOM McLaren Formula E Team driver Jake Hughes may be a rookie but his eye-catching testing performances were backed up by a strong first race outing in Mexico City. He wound up fifth but had challenged for a podium throughout. His team, formerly Mercedes-EQ, can count the joint-most wins in Diriyah via Season 7 champion Nyck de Vries. Brit Hughes has the tools at his disposal to go well again on weekend number two in Formula E.
Jaguar TCS Racing sit sixth in the Teams’ table as technical teething troubles saw Sam Bird retire from Round 1 with a broken driveshaft after stopping on track in free practice with a fault. But nobody has won more races in Saudi Arabia than Bird – his two victories are tied with de Vries – and nobody has gone quicker around the Diriyah Street Circuit.
The track will again be illuminated by the latest low-power LED technology. These reduce energy consumption by up to 50 per cent compared to non-LED units, and they will be powered by sustainably-sourced biofuel generators.
“I love racing in Saudi – the track is amazing,” said Season 6 champion António Félix da Costa, of TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team. “I was the first winner there in Season 5 and I’ve got great memories. We go well every time we go there. With it being a night race, your practice and qualifying happen during the day and then you race at night. Temperatures change, along with the track surface with the sand getting brushed away. Your perceptions also change with the shadows changing. It takes a little bit of adaptation and training to the eye but I love the different variables and it definitely creates a better show for the fans. It’s very cool to race there, and great to watch – especially at night.”
WHEN TO WATCH
Free practice 1 for the 2023 CORE Diriyah E-Prix gets underway at 18:00 KSA on Thursday 26 January.
Free practice 2 follows at 13:30 AST (10:30 GMT) on Friday with qualifying from 15:40. The first race of the 2023 CORE Diriyah City E-Prix gets underway from 20:00 KSA time
Free practice 3 is at 13:30 KSA time on Saturday with qualifying for Round 3 at 15:40 KSA time and the race follows at 20:00.
WHERE TO WATCH
Middle East and North Africa: catch all the action except FP1 on Saudi Sport Company’s (SSC) linear channel SSC 2 as well as their digital platform shahid.net. SSC will on the ground in Diriyah bringing an immersive studio experience to the fans in Saudi Arabia. Across the Middle East and North Africa, Dubai Sports will be showcasing both qualifiers, races, and highlights on Dubai Sports 2.