With the Diriyah E-Prix in Riyadh (Saudi Arabia) on 22 and 23 November 2019, the TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team enters its maiden season in the ABB FIA Formula E Championship. The sixth season of the first fully electric race series of the world spans 14 events in twelve metropolises on five continents.
Diriyah E-Prix questions and answers
Neel Jani (Porsche works driver, #18)
How do you feel when you think about your first Formula E race with Porsche?
“I am really looking forward to it. It is great that it’s finally about to get underway. But we are also aware that we are venturing into the unknown, which makes it all very exciting. We are well prepared, but it’s not possible to simulate critical situations at the racetrack. We will be fully focussed heading into our first Formula E season.”
You are only familiar with the track from the simulator at the moment. What do you think about the layout of the racetrack in Diriyah?
“My first impression of the track in Diriyah is definitely positive. The up and down sections, and the differences in altitude these bring, are noticeable. The first part of the track has fast turns and more flowing parts, while the second sector, with its slow, narrow turns, is more reminiscent of a traditional Formula E track. There are also hardly any bumps, which is unusual for a Formula E street circuit. All in all, the track is technically demanding, since it has every possible type of turn there is.”
André Lotterer (Porsche works driver, #36)
You are familiar with the racetrack in Diriyah from the last Formula E season. What are its special characteristics?
“From my perspective, the street circuit in Diriyah is one of the most challenging tracks on the race calendar. The layout has many combinations of turns, particularly from turn one to turn 14 you are constantly switching between left and right turns. That sector is really fast. You have to be very precise with your driving and can’t afford to make any mistakes. On top of that are the different altitude profiles, which make the track unique compared with other Formula E tracks. It’s so much fun driving there, which is why it is also one of my favourite tracks.”
How have you been preparing yourself for the first race these past weeks?
“Testing at the racetrack ended with the official Formula E test. That was followed up with simulator work. I also spent a week in the mountains, honing my fitness. And on top of that, I am involved in regular discussions with my race engineer. So it’s a full programme all round.”
Pascal Zurlinden (Director Factory Motorsport)
What needs to be taken into account in Diriyah in terms of energy management?
“The opening Formula E race of Season 6 marks the first application of the new sporting regulations. Previously, drivers were able to conserve their available energy during a Full Course Yellow period and a Safety Car period. That is no longer the case with the new regulations. Now, a kilowatt hour is deducted from the available energy each minute. The driver has to execute this using combinations of buttons on the steering wheel, under the supervision of race control. This will make energy management more significant. The Diriyah track has three overtaking opportunities on the straights, so, drivers need to divide the energy in such a way that they can attack their rivals or fend off attacks in these sections.”
What are your expectations for Porsche’s debut in Formula E?
“The Formula E test in Valencia wasn’t really representative of the upcoming season so we aren’t sure where we stand. In principle, we are very well prepared ahead of our first two races, and naturally we would be delighted to pick up points with the Porsche 99X Electric. Generally, our goal is always the same: to win races. However, we know the strength of our competitors – a total of ten manufacturers and twelve highly professional Formula E teams will take each other on in Season 6. It goes without saying that we have a lot of respect for them, but are looking forward to the challenge.”
Everything you need to know about the Diriyah E-Prix
At the Season 6 opener, two races will be held on the street circuit – one on Friday and one on Saturday. The day before the first race, 21 November, there will be a brief shakedown. Two free practice sessions are scheduled for the first race day, with the first session lasting 45 minutes and the second one 30 minutes. In qualifying, the drivers are divided into four groups. They have to complete their fastest lap within six minutes in their respective groups. The top six out of all the groups qualify for the 20-minute Super Pole, which decides who will take on the race from the first, second and third rows of the grid. The race lasts for 45 minutes plus one lap. The programme for race two on Saturday is almost identical, however, there is only one 45-minute practice session.
The 2.494-km street circuit in Diriyah is one of the most demanding tracks on the Formula E race calendar. The track consists of 21 turns and also has one of the longest straights.
The qualifying sessions and races of the Diriyah E-Prix will be broadcast live on Eurosport. The times (CET) of the international broadcast are as follows:
Qualifying 1: Eurosport 1, 22 November 2019, 8:55 – 10:10
Race 1: Eurosport 1, 22 November 2019, 13:00 – 14:00
Qualifying 2: Eurosport 1, 23 November 2019, 8:55 – 10:05
Race 2: Eurosport 1, 23 November 2019, 13:00 – 14:00