Thrills, technology and triumph: Diriyah E-Prix’s spectacular opening day sets high standards for electric racing

Sustainability central to Formula E as world champion maintains dominance on the track

RIYADH: The first day of the Diriyah E-Prix saw a win for reigning Formula E world champion Jake Dennis of Andretti Formula E Team, the British driver overcoming the disappointment of ninth place in the season’s opening round in Mexico with a dominant victory by the second-largest winning margin in the series’ 10-year history.

Dennis started in third on the grid but ultimately negotiated slippery track conditions to finish 13.289 seconds ahead of Formula E’s only double champion, Jean-Eric Vergne (DS PENSKE), a rare feat in a racing series where most podium places are often within a single second.

On the sidelines too, the Diriyah E-Prix continued to drive Formula E’s message of sustainability, emphasizing the importance of renewable practices not just in the fast-paced world of motor racing, but also in the motor industry and wider society.

Speaking to Arab News, President of the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation Prince Khaled bin Sultan Al-Faisal Al-Saud stressed the Kingdom’s role in sustainability.

“(Sustainability) plays a big role and it’s a key element in transforming Saudi Arabia from dependence on oil to new technologies and different sources of power,” he said.

He added that Saudi Arabia relies less on electricity coming from petrochemicals products. “Most of the materials we use here are recycled, sustainable and environment-friendly.

“This shows the direction of Saudi Arabia’s investment in different sources of energy.”

Hosting such races has a “big impact” on the local motorsport culture, and benefits the community, Prince Khaled said.

“Saudi Arabia has a very young population,” he said. “We have a lot of people who like entertainment and sport, so this gives them an opportunity; instead of watching this event on TV or through social media, they can come and see it by themself, which brings them closer to the teams and the drivers.”

Prince Khaled highlighted that such events should inspire Saudis in the future to be part of motorsport industry, on and off the track.

“They can be drivers or a team manager or an engineer that helps develop new technology.”

The prince also emphasized the benefits that Formula E and similar events bring to tourism and the economy of Saudi Arabia.

“We see a lot of people that come from outside of the Kingdom to watch this race, either spectators or from the team.”

Beyond the racing action, the Diriyah venue showcased a blend of modernity and tradition, offering fans a chance to explore the distinctive heritage of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

From interactive exhibits highlighting the evolution of electric vehicles to cultural displays, immersive experiences where on hand for the fans.

Alberto Longo, co-founder and chief championship officer of Formula E, told Arab News that collaboration with local authorities had been key as the Riyadh hosted the Diriyah E-Prix for a sixth year.

Speaking of the partnerships between Formula E and local organizers, as well as government entities in Saudi Arabia, to foster the growth of electric racing in the region, he said that his organization has “a very good relationship with the Minister of Sports and that is what is making the race happen year after year.”

“We’re sold out for today (Friday) and tomorrow as well. There’s going to be a massive crowd,” Longo said. “I just want the people to enjoy and have fun.”

Leave a Comment