There have been seven races around this Diriyah circuit, but with a new generation completely throwing the formbook out in the first round, we could see the rise of a new star, or will experienced hands prevail under the spotlights?
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Power shift in Diriyah, or will it be something familiar?
One thing that is certain is that the dominant powertrain around Diriyah is no longer in the series, Mercedes-EQ was the benchmark around this circuit after securing all the poles, wins and led every lap in each leg of the Diriyah races in 2022.
The race-winning crews behind those victories are still present, just in a different colour palette with the papaya of NEOM McLaren and the navy blue of Maserati MSG Racing.
In the last two seasons, the squad that’s now in that iconic shade of orange have taken the win in the double-header opener as well as three of the last four Julius Baer Pole Positions.
Rookie Jake Hughes had his first taste of Formula E racing, immediately getting his elbows out in the opening round with an impressive run to fifth-place finish in Mexico City.
On the other side of the garage, Rene Rast will be looking to out-perform his rookie team-mate, after Hughes outpaced his experienced teammate in the opening round.
The German does have some form in Diriyah already, his best finish was a fourth back in 2021 after qualifying in third on the grid, his best starting position in Formula E. Will the McLaren pair continue their team’s traditions in Saudi Arabia?
"When it rains it pours"- that was the radio message from Sam Bird back to the Jaguar TCS Racing garage in Mexico as he cruelly came to a halt with a broken driveshaft.
It hasn’t been plain sailing for the popular Brit for some time now, his season kicked off much how last year ended. After breaking his wrist in London and missing the final races in Seoul, his unlucky streak continued as technical issues marred his time in Mexico City.
Diriyah could be the perfect kickstart to better fortunes, as this track has been happy hunting ground for Bird.
He has two wins under his belt around here, having won with Envision Racing back in Season 6 and making a victorious start to his relationship with Jaguar in Season 7, last year he picked up a best of fourth and secured the fastest lap in the race.
Another whose season didn’t quite get off to a good start was Maserati MSG Racing’s Edoardo Mortara.
The Swiss-French-Italian was unable to transfer his testing form into the first round in Mexico City, but he did see some positives in his race pace - until an untimely end to his race, crashing out on his own and leaving his Maserati down a dead-end street (thanks to number 1 Swifty, Jack Nicholls, for that one).
Mortara is the most recent winner in Diriyah, having won the second leg last season. Starting from second on the grid after narrowly missing out on pole by 0.005s, it didn’t matter for much as he would take the chequered flag first.
It made for his second podium in Diriyah – the first coming in Season 7, which also included an incredible pass demonstrating some cat-like reflexes. It’s been a favourite replay for some time now, enjoy again below.
Reigning champion Stoffel Vandoorne has a successful but albeit unfortunate record in Diriyah with the most podium finishes around here with three but no win. The Belgian was leading the opening race here last year but dropped back behind former teammate de Vries after missing his ATTACK MODE activation and costing him the victory.
Having jumped across to DS PENSKE for Season 9, Vandoorne was another driver unable to carry over his one-lap pace from testing, starting the race down in 17th. He did, however, also showcase that there is some race pace in the car, making his way up to the final points paying position of 10th – continuing a huge 14-race point scoring streak.
Moving to the TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team this season, Antonio Felix da Costa finished in seventh last time out for a positive, points-scoring debut with the German outfit.
The former champion has prior success in Diriyah, having won the first-ever race in Saudi Arabia when he dominated from pole in the BMW i Andretti machine and then scored a third place in Season 7. The Portguese star could be on for a leading role as he arrives at a circuit he enjoys, and after looking comfortable in his new Porsche last time out.
Jake Dennis stunned the grid with his dominance in Mexico City, creating a pattern for Avalanche Andretti with opening a new generation with a victory, and in commanding style romping across the line with a huge seven second lead.
With Porsche-power under his feet, he continued the German marque’s success around the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez. Now it’s on to Round 2, and the Brit has podium prowess here after a third-place finish in the opening race in Diriyah last season after qualifying in second.
This could arguably be one of Andretti’s strongest tracks on the calendar, with two wins and three poles from Formula E’s time at the Diriyah Street Circuit. The driver behind one of those poles and victories: Antonio Felix da Costa, he could be a strong option for the CORE Diriyah E-Prix double-header.
Diriyah presents two chances for the drivers and yourselves to perform, download the Formula E app and get logging those predictions now.