Rounds 1 and 2 of Formula E’s maiden campaign as an FIA World Championship will take place amid the historic desert surroundings of the UNESCO World Heritage site, with the streets of historic Diriyah, Saudi Arabia the stage for the series’ season-opener for a third year in a row.
The Diriyah E-Prix will run at 17:00 GMT (20:00 local time) on February 26 & 27, with the next set of races to be confirmed in early 2021. All calendar updates are subject to approval of the FIA World Motor Sport Council.
With Season 7 initially intended to debut in Chile, the decision was taken to postpone the Santiago E-Prix, with Formula E now working with the city to finalise dates on which to stage the races later in Q1 of 2021.
Set for a spectacular double header in the dark, the track will be lit with the latest low consumption LED technology, designed to reduce energy consumption by up to fifty per cent compared to non-LED technologies. The remaining energy needed to power the floodlighting will be fully renewable provided by high performing low-carbon certified hydrogenated vegetable oil made from sustainable materials.
Last time out in Saudi, Sam Bird soared out of the blocks to take to the top step for Envision Virgin Racing in a storming first race of Season 6, with Alexander Sims (then-BMW i Andretti Motorsport) following up with a maiden victory in Round 2.
The battle of the debutant German marques saw TAG Heuer Porsche open its podium account via Andre Lotterer in its very first E-Prix, with Stoffel Vandoorne matching that feat on behalf of Mercedes-Benz EQ, following up with second trip to the rostrum in as many races for Mercedes.
Saudi Arabian citizens and residents can fly the flag for the nation at next month’s E-Prix as a limited number of tickets – in regulation with COVID19 protocols – are due to go general sale later this month.
His Royal Highness Prince Khalid Bin Sultan Al-Abdullah Al-Faisal, Chairman of The Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation, said: “In 2019 Diriyah played host to the opening round of season six, and it’s a privilege to welcome the championship back for its debut round again this season – albeit against different circumstances this year. The Diriyah E-Prix made history last year by hosting back-to-back races during a race weekend and once again we will make sporting history by hosting the first ever night race in Formula E. Our ambition is to enable Saudi citizens to attend the race and enjoy it first-hand, and we’re working hard to ensure the location is safe and secure for fans to attend. More announcements on ticketing will be made in the near future.”
Alberto Longo, Co-founder and Chief Championship Officer of Formula E, added: “We are very excited to be returning to the iconic Diriyah circuit for the opening race weekend of the 2020/21 season and to partner with Saudi to create Formula E’s first ever night race. I have no doubt the race will be spectacular and lead to a style of competitive action we haven’t seen before. Our first thought, as always, was about how to bring to life a night race in a sustainable way. I’m pleased to say we have achieved this with innovative low consumption LED technology, ensuring we can maintain the standards of sustainable practice we hold ourselves accountable to.”