Formula E promises ‘most attacking season yet’ as Saudi Arabia gears up for Diriyah E-Prix

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For its sixth season, the championship organizers have promised an improved Attack Mode – dubbed by some as ‘Mario Kart mode’ – which will mean an even bigger power boost for drivers, rising from 225kW to 235kW. (Supplied/ABB FIA Formula E)
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For its sixth season, the championship organizers have promised an improved Attack Mode – dubbed by some as ‘Mario Kart mode’ – which will mean an even bigger power boost for drivers, rising from 225kW to 235kW. (Supplied/ABB FIA Formula E)
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For its sixth season, the championship organizers have promised an improved Attack Mode – dubbed by some as ‘Mario Kart mode’ – which will mean an even bigger power boost for drivers, rising from 225kW to 235kW. (Supplied/ABB FIA Formula E)
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For its sixth season, the championship organizers have promised an improved Attack Mode – dubbed by some as ‘Mario Kart mode’ – which will mean an even bigger power boost for drivers, rising from 225kW to 235kW. (Supplied/ABB FIA Formula E)
Updated 19 November 2019

Formula E promises ‘most attacking season yet’ as Saudi Arabia gears up for Diriyah E-Prix

  • New rules changes including the fastest Attack Mode ever promise thrilling scenes at the iconic Diriyah Circuit on the outskirts of Riyadh

RIYADH: Formula E has promised racing fans in Saudi Arabia the most attacking start to a season yet, including the fastest-ever Attack Mode to be debuted at Diriyah Circuit in the Kingdom this weekend.

Diriyah, a UNESCO World Heritage site on the outskirts of Riyadh, is hosting the opening round of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship with a doubleheader of races on Nov. 22 and 23.

For its sixth season, the championship organizers have promised an improved Attack Mode – dubbed by some as ‘Mario Kart mode’ – which will mean an even bigger power boost for drivers, rising from 225kW to 235kW.

The track for the Diriyah E-Prix features one of the longest straights of any track on the Formula E circuit — a clear opportunity for drivers to activate the speed boost.

According to Formula E rules, all drivers must use Attack Mode during the race – but the number of times they have to use it and how long the power boost lasts for varies from track to track and teams are only informed an hour before the race so they cannot plan their tactics too far in advance.

To activate Attack Mode, drivers must drive through the Attack Zone on the same straight after turn 17 at the Diriyah Circuit, which could cause them to have to slow down to gain the reward they can use when they need it most. Fans will know if a driver has activated their Attack Zone as the ‘halo’ on their Gen 2 race car will glow blue.

Andre Lotterer, of the Tag Heuer Porsche Formula E team, said: “We can show the world that you can race with electric cars. The sport is growing a lot and it is getting more and more difficult to win but that is part of the challenge.”

For the sixth season of the electric racing series, the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) has also introduced changes this year to encourage drivers to conserve power, especially during stoppages, in a bid to end scenes in previous seasons that saw drivers running out of power yards from the finish line.

Lotterer said: “The energy management is going to be different. The rules have changed this year, it means that when there are interruptions in the race such as the safety car or a red flag or full course yellow flag, last year we were saving energy in those moments and having more energy to finish the race.

“That changed the strategy and the dynamic of the race, it made it more difficult to overtake. This year I think it will be more strategic, I think it will be more based on efficiency and I think it will be interesting for everyone watching.”

The Diriyah Circuit has been hailed by drivers as one of the most beautiful and challenging on the circuit.

Samer Issa-El-Khoury, Managing Partner at CBX, the firm that oversaw construction of the iconic track, said: “It has one of the most turns of any other circuit in Formula E, we have 21 turns, which will make for a super exciting race.

“What is very challenging for the drivers is that some of the turns are ascending, some of them are descending, so not only do you have a slope but you have a slope and a corner, one second you are going down the next going up.

“This will show the drivers’ prowess and technical ability to cope with those turns, because it is so easy to make a mistake, to lose speed if you take it a little bit wrong.

“Also, at the end of turn 17 you have one of the longest straights, with the new Attack Zone that has been introduced. I think it’s going to be as interesting to see how this attack zone will happen, and whatever they gain on that, they might lose it on the turns.

“All this makes makes the Diriyah E-Prix more of a drivers’ race than a car or teams’ race,” he added.

The Diriyah E-Prix is part of Diriyah Season, a month of sports events such as the “Clash on the Dunes” world heavyweight boxing title fight, top-class men’s tennis and an elite equestrian contest.


Africa Cup switch to winter sends a chill through European leagues

Updated 21 January 2020

Africa Cup switch to winter sends a chill through European leagues

  • High-profile African players playing in England include the Arsenal duo Pierre-Emerick Aubamayang of Gabon and Nicolas Pepe of Cote d’Ivoire

CAIRO: There is little doubt that the switch by the Africa Cup of Nations from summer to winter competition will have a big impact on European competitions, with those at the top of the Premier League perhaps most affected.

The confederation confirmed that from 2021 when Cameroon will play host, the tournament will revert back to being played in January and February.

The tournament was moved to a June-July slot for last year’s edition in Egypt, which meant minimal disruption to the European domestic season. But plenty of Premier League managers will be left with problems this time next year, with several stars likely to leave for up to six weeks, including pre-tournament preparations.

Liverpool coach Jurgen Klopp appears to face the biggest headache given that two of his star attacking players, Mohamed Salah from Egypt and Sadio Mane from Senegal, both featured in the African tournament last summer and are almost certain to be involved in the 2021 competition in some capacity.

High-profile African players playing in England include the Arsenal duo Pierre-Emerick Aubamayang of Gabon and Nicolas Pepe of Cote d’Ivoire, while Manchester City will lose Riyad Mahrez should Algeria feature.

Klopp is critical of the decision to move the tournament dates, calling it “a catastrophe.” Salah and Mane’s absence would leave huge gaps in the Liverpool side. There is also Cameroon’s Joel Matip and Guinea’s Naby Keita to worry about. Matip has become solid at the back. Keita, too, would be a loss given his recent resurgence.

The Liverpool manager is upset because last year’s tournament was moved to mid-year to end a long-standing clash between clubs and countries over the release of their players. It was felt that common sense had prevailed when the tournament, which since 1960 had always been held during winter, reverted to summer. African players in western European clubs would no longer find themselves the target of competing claims for their attention every other season, which would benefit the players and their clubs and countries, and lead to fewer squabbles.

But then Cameroon changed its mind about hosting the tournament in summer next year, changing the dates from June and July to between Jan. 6 and Feb. 6. Why? The weather. It’s simply too hot in Cameroon in summer.

Organizers said they had agreed to the change after discussions with player and coach representatives.

But didn’t Cameroon know beforehand that its summers are too hot, too humid and right in the middle of its rainy season? That the country does not enjoy ideal conditions for football in summer could not have taken its organizers by complete surprise.

The situation serves as a vivid reminder of the botch-up of the 2022 Qatar World Cup. The host and FIFA decided that the World Cup, which is forever played in summer, would be moved to winter because of Qatar’s oppressive heat — but that decision came only after Qatar won the bid. That change, again, will mean a head-on clash with international tournaments and club competitions.

A football tournament simply cannot keep changing when it will be held as often as people change their socks. This is especially true for the Africa Cup of Nations, which is played every two years.

A major sports tournament must have fixed times. And, to be sure, its organizers should understand that you can’t please everybody. A championship’s times are bound to clash with some tournament or other. The African tournament, for example, will avoid a clash with FIFA’s revamped 24-team Club World Cup to be played in China in June and July 2021. But it cannot but conflict with European leagues. The important thing is to stay the course. Once a date is picked, it should be stuck to like glue.