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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 20 January 2019

Lowdown: Everything you need to know about Formula E's Saudia Ad Diriyah E-Prix

Ahead of the historic first staging of the race in Diriyah here is a look at the schedule and a guide to what to look for

Nissan's Oliver Rowland in action in Formula E practice on Friday. LAT Images
Nissan's Oliver Rowland in action in Formula E practice on Friday. LAT Images

The inaugural Saudia Ad Diriyah E-Prix in Saudi Arabia starts the 2018/19 Formula E season on Saturday.

The race in Diriyah begins at 4.05pm UAE time and will be the first time a round of the championship has been held in the country.

Here are some things to watch for ahead of the event.

'Exciting' times

It is a new era for motorsport in Saudi Arabia. The country's General Sports Authority have agreed a 10-year deal to host a round of the championship that consists solely of electric cars.

The 22 drivers from the 11 teams will get to grips with a 2.5km track, having enjoyed their first sighter laps on Friday.

It is a step into the unknown for all the competitors so the order could be shaken up and this could be one of the most unpredictable races in the sport's history.

Prince Abdulaziz Bin Turki Al Faisal Al Saud, vice-chair of the Saudi Arabia General Sports Authority, said before the weekend: "Formula E for Saudi Arabia is more than an exciting race, it is bigger than a single sporting event, its legacy reaches beyond the track into the community."

New era

While it is a first for Saudi Arabia it is also changing times for the series, too. New cars, named Gen2, boast double the battery range of the previous model, meaning the past situation of drivers having to change cars midway through an event is now consigned to the history books.

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Different faces

Two familiar faces for Formula One fans who attend the Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be Felipe Massa and Stoffel Vandoorne.

Massa, who won 11 races in his F1 career, retired from the series in 2017 but is now trying his hand at Formula E with the Venturi team.

Vandoorne raced in last month's grand prix at Yas Marina Circuit in his final race for McLaren. He was dropped by the British team and the Belgian will now look to rebuild his career with HWA Racelab.

In total nine drivers have a F1 background, including defending champion Jean-Eric Vergne.

Contenders

Vergne will start as favourite in his Techeetah car, but the new makes of car does mean everyone is beginning from a new starting point.

Lucas di Grassi finished last season with real momentum, finishing with two wins and five runners-up spots from the final seven races.

Schedule

Qualifying is split into four sessions, starting from 11.50am, before the super pole session, which will decide who starts at the front takes place at 12.35pm, running for 20 minutes.

The race will end after 45 minutes of action, with the winner being declared as the leader when the time limit is reached.

Updated: December 15, 2018 08:36 AM

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