An electric future is on the horizon

The fifth season of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship will kick off this December on the streets of Diriyah as part of an unprecedented week-long celebration of motorsport, live music and, entertainment under the Ad Diriyah E-Prix moniker.

Electrification will come to the outskirts of Riyadh, on the site of the ancient city of Diriyah, as Formula E is ready to commence its fifth season of eco-friendly competition. The motorsport event, which will feature the international debut of the Generation 2 Formula E car and the championship debut of former F1 Vice-World Champion Felipe Massa, will be just an element of the never-before-seen entertainment festival that will take the city by storm.

Everything is part of the Vision2030 plan which draws out the future of Saudi Arabia, a future very much focused on both tourism and electrification. This means that on the occasion of the Ad Diriyah E-Prix a new way of entering the Kingdom will be available in the form of an online visa, known as ”Sharek,” that will come with your attendance ticket. ”With the introduction with ‘Sharek’ our visa entry process for fans worldwide, we can share the event,” said His Royal Highness Prince Abdulaziz Bin Turki AlFaisal Al Saud, Vice-Chair of the Saudi Arabia General Sports Authority. ”We hope the Saudia Diriyah E Prix will see fans from around the globe come to Saudi Arabia to watch this epic sporting spectacle as now your ticket is your visa. We can promise a line-up both on the track, onstage and amongst a breathtaking historical setting that will excite fans across the world,” Al Faisal added.

The launch event for the Saudi Arabian E-Prix coincided with the announcement that Saudia, the Kingdom’s national airline company, will be the title sponsor of the race as well as the official airline of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship. Former F1 driver Felipe Massa, who will race for the Venturi E-Prix Team this oncoming season, was present at the event as were series founder and CEO Alejandro Agag, Susie Wolff, Venturi E-Prix team principal, Andre Lotterer, driver for the Techeetah Team and many officials from Saudia and the Saudi Arabian state.

Why it matters

Felipe Massa Goes All-Electric in Saudi Arabia Ahead of Formula E Opener
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The 2018-2019 season of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship will visit Saudi Arabia for the season-opening round on the outskirts of Riyadh, on the streets of historical Diriyah. Currently an UNESCO site that was the first seat of power for Saudi’s Kings, the city’s existing road network was used to create the circuit.

The E-Prix will be an integrated element of a new festival of music, entertainment and racing aimed at bringing many tourists from abroad to the Kingdom.

This is precisely why the local authorities introduced the digital ”Sharek” visa system that makes entering Saudi Arabia, and enjoying its beauty, easier than ever before.

The Saudi Arabian E-Prix will also mark the championship debut of Brazilian F1 veteran Felipe Massa. The 37-year-old, who narrowly missed on the World Driver’s Championship title a decade ago, will race for the Venturi E-Prix team. “I am ready for the race. It’s a fantastic feeling driving around the city, the town, it’s historical. It will be a big event,” said Massa at the press conference.

Felipe Massa Goes All-Electric in Saudi Arabia Ahead of Formula E Opener
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“Learning everything is a challenge,” added Massa. ”It’s different cars, different tracks and a different way of driving. I need to learn and grow to understand but I like new challenges.” The Brazilian has already racked up over 500 miles behind the wheel of the new-for-2018 Generation 2 Formula E single-seater, but it’s still early days to talk about Massa’s performance as an FE driver.

The street circuit that will host the race, which will take place on December 18th, was also unveiled at the launching event. It is a 1.76-mile-long track with a number of fast, flowing, corners as well as elevation changes.

“The circuit will be a big challenge for us the drivers with lots of different elements to it,” was Massa’s reaction when asked about the layout.

The E-Prix, which was, as Al Faisal confessed, the Kingdom’s main target in terms of a motorsport event to host in the capital, will have support races as well. The Jaguar I-Pace eTrophy will be on the bill and will welcome a Saudi Arabian national team with a yet-to-be-announced duo of local drivers. So far, only two teams have committed to the I-Pace eTrophy, but a pre-season event at Silverstone will take place at Silverstone where it’s expected that more entries will be announced.

Felipe Massa Goes All-Electric in Saudi Arabia Ahead of Formula E Opener
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The 2018-2019 season of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship will see the 22 drivers race across five continents.

The series will return to well-known locations such as Berlin, Rome, Paris or Mexico City, but will also visit new venues besides Saudi Arabia. A round in Hong-Kong followed by a trip to Sanya, China, will mark the championship’s mid-season return to Asia while a race on the full Grand Prix street circuit in Monaco is on the cards.

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