RIYADH: NEOM McLaren Formula E drivers Rene Rast and Jake Hughes are relishing the opportunity of racing at this weekend’s CORE Diriyah E-Prix double-header, hoping to make Saudi Arabia proud in NEOM’s “home” races.
The ABB FIA Formula E World Championship returns to Riyadh for Rounds 2 and 3 of Season 9 on Friday and Saturday with Rast and Hughes to put on strong performances at the night races.
It will be the first time the drivers and the team will be competing in Saudi Arabia since NEOM’s strategic partnership with McLaren to become the title partner of the McLaren Formula E teams.
During a virtual media roundtable with regional media, Rast, of Germany, who returned to Formula E for Season 9 after racing in Season 6 and 7, said: “Diriyah is one of my favorite tracks and provides some good overtaking but also very challenging where you can’t make any mistakes.
“We have only been in Saudi Arabia for a few days but we visited the place and I am really impressed with the facilities in NEOM and what they are doing. Given its partnership, this race makes it more special and I hope we can do well and hope there’s a lot of support for McLaren this week.”
His team-mate Hughes, who competed in Formula 2 and was a reserve and development driver during Seasons 7 and 8 with the Mercedes-EQ Formula E Team, is eager for a good performance.
He said: “It’s my first time racing this season and lot of drivers have spoken highly of the track so I’m really looking forward to it. As a team, we have two ‘home’ races given McLaren is a British team. We know there will be a lot of guests coming from NEOM to watch the races and their support as well the crowd’s will be really good. Hopefully we can entertain them and win them some trophies, which would be great.”
NEOM McLaren’s Team Principle Ian James is looking forward to the races. He said: “After a satisfying first round of the season for the team in Mexico City, just over a week ago, I’m looking forward to continue the racing in Saudi Arabia this coming weekend. It’s always great to go racing, but there’s some extra anticipation around this particular race weekend for us as a team, as it’s the home race for our Title Partner NEOM.”
Sattam Al-Hozami, CEO of Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation, also addressed the local media and emphasised the importance of how staging Formula E races is contributing to the Kingdom’s growth and as a sporting destination hub.
He said: “We are extremely happy with the partnership we have with Formula E. Today, fans in Saudi Arabia have began to take an interest in motorsport thanks to the staging of the Formula E races and the competition is growing rapidly worldwide, which is really good for the sport in general. The Diriyah races are really popular as it’s the only track in what is a historical venue that takes place in the night, which makes the races more entertaining and fun for people to watch. We look forward to welcoming as many people this weekend.”
The 2023 CORE Diriyah E-Prix is a double-header of races, which will take place on a street circuit surrounding the UNESCO World Heritage Site, one of the most picturesque locations on the 16-race calendar and the only night races in the Formula E season.
It will be the first time that fans in Saudi Arabia will see the all-new GEN3 — the fastest, lightest, most powerful and efficient electric race car ever built. Capable of 200mph/322kph, the 22 drivers will push the world’s most advanced electric racing car to the limit as they navigate the 21-turn, 2.495 km circuit.