More drivers, more teams, more races: Formula E is back!
The future of motorsport is happening now in the shape of Formula E, and the all-electric racing championship is kicking off its biggest ever season with a showstopping double-header in Saudi Arabia this week.
Double the action, twice the excitement
Formula E was only conceived in 2011, so it is only fitting that a sport which has emerged from nothing in eight years should begin its sixth season on a race track which was created from scratch in just three months.
As part of Saudi Arabia’s Vision2030, the historical town of Diriyah was picked to stage the opening race of the Formula E 2018-19 season.
It was a case of the past colliding with the future as Diriyah – the first capital of Saudi Arabia and now a UNESCO world heritage site – looked to host the newest and cleanest racing series on the planet.
As detailed in Discovery’s Race to Change documentary, a mammoth effort was required to construct the Riyadh Street Circuit in time for last year’s race.
Inspired by iconic circuits from around the globe, a twisting 2.5km track with hairpin bends and a flat-out straight was designed to test drivers to their very limit.
The ultra-ambitious project was ultimately completed in time for the inaugural Diriyah E-Prix in December 2018, with Portugal’s Antonio Felix da Costa having the honour of winning the first ever Formula E race in the Middle East.
This time around, Felix da Costa will be out to top the podium again in Diriyah not once but twice, with the town playing host to the opening two races on Friday and Saturday.
Felix da Costa will not have it all his own way, however, with motorsport’s most unpredictable championship about to become even more competitive.
Let the battle commence
More drivers. More teams. More races.
With 24 drivers across 12 teams taking part in 14 races across four continents, Formula E is gearing up for its biggest season to date.
It would therefore be safe to expect the unexpected in Diriyah, especially after pre-season testing saw 22 of the 24 drivers separated by less than one second.
Predicting a championship winner is not easy, but this week's action will go some way towards answering questions Formula E fans around the world have been asking.
There will be those wondering whether two-time champion Jean-Eric Vergne can defend his drivers’ championship.
The Frenchman is Formula E’s first repeat champion, but his quest for a third title will not be easy, particularly with Felix da Costa joining him as his new DS Techeetah team-mate.
Meanwhile, other supporters will be fascinated to see how Formula E’s two newest teams fare.
Motorsport giants Mercedes and Porsche are entering the fray, meaning the Diriyah E-Prix will pose as the first obstacle for these teams to overcome as they look to challenge for honours in their debut season.
The fact reigning Formula 2 champion Nyck de Vries will be heading Mercedes’ hopes is further proof that the 2019-20 season will be its most competitive yet.
The reward will therefore be great for any racer who can quickly get to grips with the 21 corners of the Riyadh Street Circuit this week.
The double-header quite simply doubles the significance this weekend will have on the season to come, as every team and driver looks to make a huge statement of intent, knowing every point will be vital in deciding the outcome of the next teams and drivers’ championship.
A heavyweight season of sport starts here
The two races not only kick off the Formula E season in style, but also signal the start of Saudi Arabia’s month-long Diriyah Season, which sees a host of sports and entertainment events coming to the historical town.
Three-time tennis Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka and current world No 4 Daniil Medvedev are among the players competing in the Diriyah Tennis Cup – the first professional tournament in Saudi Arabia – which starts on December 12.
Meanwhile, Diriyah will also be hosting the biggest heavyweight boxing fight of the year as Great Britain’s Anthony Joshua seeks revenge against Mexican Andy Ruiz Jr.
Joshua lost his heavyweight belts when he was stunned by Ruiz back in June, and the pair will go toe-to-toe once again in the Clash on the Dunes on December 7.
It will be the first time the Middle East has hosted a heavyweight world title fight, meaning the eyes of the boxing world will be watching the action unfold in Saudi Arabia.