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RIYADH STREET CIRCUIT, SAUDI ARABIA - JANUARY 29: Pascal Wehrlein (DEU), Tag Heuer Porsche, Porsche 99X Electric during the Diriyah ePrix II at Riyadh Street Circuit on Saturday January 29, 2022 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (Photo by Sam Bloxham / LAT Images)

Formula E heads to the ‘most challenging but most rewarding’ track in Diriyah

We take a look at the most-talked points in the paddock as we head to Diriyah for two rounds of Formula E

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Formula E is back with a doubleheader in Diriyah and Jake Dennis is aiming to add to his points tally in a bid for the championship.

Jake Dennis won the first round in Mexico (Image Credit: CSM Sport & Entertainment

Diriyah is making its appearance for the fifth consecutive time as drivers go head-to-head at the Riyadh Street Circuit. The cold temperatures in the evening will pose another challenge for the teams. The drivers will also have to think about the Bobsleigh Run at Turn 6, making it one of the fastest turns on the track.

Jake Dennis is coming into this E-Prix with 26 points after racing to victory in Mexico. From before the season even started, the Brit had his sights set on a championship with Andretti. It’s too early to say whether Dennis and co will manage to go all the way, considering the strong contender they have in Porsche.

The German outlet is also their supplier and they too kicked off the year running. Pascal Wehrlein is hungry to earn more points in the double opportunity he gets in Diriyah and his teammate Antonio Felix Da Costa is ready to go at it too.

Let’s dive into some of the talking points going into this weekend.

Jake Dennis keeping up the momentum

The 27-year-old would love to become the first Brit to take home the Formula E title. However, he has a long way to go with 16 rounds left in the season. He started off on a very good note, winning the first race of the new era.

He admitted that this gave Andretti “good motivation and good preparation” to plan for the coming races.

Dennis added: “You never want to start on the backfoot for the first race of the year, the first race of the GEN3 era – it just keeps the morale high. When we go to Saudi, I’m not expecting to win by eight seconds by any means, but I’m really hoping that we have a competitive car to at least fight for podiums.

“I’m definitely full of confidence and just hope that we can continue this momentum. But I’m not taking anything for granted and we need to keep working hard still.”

Diriyah will prove more difficult than Mexico. As we said, it is one of the calendar’s fastest tracks, and the cold temperatures can cause teams crucial seconds. Dennis admitted that this track is one that almost “every driver enjoys.”

He added: “It is probably the most challenging but also the most rewarding one on the calendar. It’s also probably the fastest on the calendar, so putting all those together really gives the driver a level of satisfaction when delivering a good lap in qualifying.

“[Taking place at night] makes it even more exciting for the fans, but with the colder temperatures it is going to make life difficult for the drivers and the engineers to be able to get the tire in the sweet spot.”

Entering the Centur100ns club

Sebastian Buemi, Jean-Eric Vergne and Sam Bird are the drivers reaching their 100th race in Formula E this weekend. It’s a massive milestone made by drivers who gave so much to the sport since its debut. They’ll be joining Lucas Di Grassi in making such history.

Both Buemi and JEV are Formula E Champions. The Envision driver won the championship in Season 2 with Renault e.dams. Meanwhile, JEV is a two-time Formula E Champion, winning the title two consecutive times in Season 4 and Season 5. He won both titles with DS Techeetah.

JEV looks at making more history with DS Automobiles after their previous success together. Even though things didn’t start as they would have liked in Mexico, the team still has many opportunities to turn it around.

Sam Bird is yet to add that title to his name, however, he is one of the most remarkable veterans of the sport. Throughout his time in Formula E, he won 11 races and found himself on the podium on 22 occasions. His best-ever season finish was in Season 5, finishing third with 143 points. That year, he was just a point away from second place, which was taken by Di Grassi.

What else are we looking forward to?

Diriyah is set to produce another exciting Formula E weekend. In Mexico, teams like NIO 333 showed great potential that they’d want to carry on forward. Meanwhile, pre-season dominators, Maserati couldn’t quite find the momentum in the first E-Prix of the season. DS Penske are also hoping to turn their season around as early as possible.

Robin Frijns didn’t have the best weekend either after he fractured his wrist and needed surgery. A collision with Norman Nato’s Nissan in the opening lap saw him out of the race early. He’s still in recovery and that is why DTM driver Kelvin Van der Linde will jump in for him in Saudi Arabia.

Meanwhile, earlier this week we discussed how Porsche are looking forward to bringing up the heat and getting themselves a win in Diriyah. Wehrlein is looking in a strong position to contest Jake Dennis and we’re in for a thriller with these two.

Session timings

Practice 1 in Diriyah was earlier today at 3pm. You can watch the highlights on Formula E’s Youtube Channel.

Friday, January 27

  • Free Practice 2 – 10.30am
  • Qualifying – 12.40pm
  • Round 2: Diriyah E-Prix – 5pm

Saturday, January 28

  • Free Practice 3 – 10.30pm
  • Qualifying – 12.40pm
  • Round 3: Diriyah E-Prix – 5pm

You can watch all live sessions on Channel 4 Sport Youtube channel while both rounds will also be covered on Eurosport 1. To catch up on races, you can rewatch the weekend on All4.

Featured Image Credit: CSM Sport & Entertainment

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