Audi's Lucas Di Grassi is no stranger to racing at night, with plenty of sportscar experience under his belt. The 2016/17 champion feels there won't be too much adjustment in terms of the bones of racing at night but the colder evening temperatures will throw everything the teams knew from past visits to Diriyah out of the window. There's the added complication of Free Practice 2 and Qualifying taking place in the afternoon sun, too.
"Racing at night itself isn’t so different, but the temperature is," says the Brazilian. "For the first time, we’re racing on asphalt that’s very cold. If we get a Full Course Yellow or a Safety Car, the tyres will be quick to lose temperature. In a race like in Mexico City or Santiago, that’s a good thing because it puts them back into the ideal operating window but here, they could get too cold quite easily and it could cause a lot of trouble."
The Riyadh Street Circuit has seen a few adjustments since the last running of the Diriyah E-Prix.Turns 9 & 10, 12 & 13, Turn 14 - particularly key as the long drag down the back straight follows - and Turn 18 have all been gently reprofiled and have the potential to throw up a curve ball for the engineers where fine margins count.
"The grip level with the new surface here, even when it was completely green, is seconds faster," continues di Grassi. "We were way up in practice compared to last year, and yes the track’s changed a bit too with some higher speed stuff but the differences are very big.
"In practice, we need to decide exactly how to change the car to make sure it’s working well," adds the 36-year-old I think it was close to a race scenario last night and you need to gather the information at the same time and conditions of the session you’re gathering that data for.
"It’s a new track for everybody and you need to get up to speed – so you don’t want to do so many laps in race mode. You need some flat laps, too; it’s always a compromise but in these different conditions, it’s really making things even more difficult."