How new track surface could impact Riyadh Formula E race

The track surface at Formula E’s Diriyah E-Prix circuit has been largely re-laid ahead of the 2019 event following the drainage issues that blighted the inaugural event last year.

How new track surface could impact Riyadh Formula E race

Motorsport.com understands that approximately 80% of the asphalt has been re-laid at the 1.5-mile circuit, with several large manhole covers now installed in the undulating first and second sectors – where pools of water collected during the rain-affected practice sessions and caused the timetable for the 2018 event to be heavily revised.

When asked about the changes by Motorsport.com in the pre-race press conference for the 2019-20 season-opening event, reigning champion Jean-Eric Vergne said they had made that section of track “quite slippery and therefore a little bit bumpy”.

Porsche’s Andre Lotterer explained that “it's more the dirt [sitting on the new surface] that will play an affect in changing the grip” for the drivers – an issue that several racers highlighted after inspecting the track.

“It's absolutely filthy – dirty,” Envision Virgin Racing driver Sam Bird told Motorsport.com

“They've obviously added more drainage because of the issues we had last year, and the Tarmac around the drains already seems to be like it's crumbling a little bit after the I-PACE [Jaguar eTrophy support series running]. So, we need to see how that goes.”

Nissan e.dams driver Sebastien Buemi pointed out that for drivers in the first qualifying group – the top six finishers in the 2018-19 championship, Vergne, Buemi, Audi’s Lucas di Grassi, Virgin driver Robin Frijns, Mitch Evans (Jaguar) and Lotterer’s replacement at DS Techeetah, Antonio Felix da Costa  – the sandy surface “unfortunately might be very hard” as it will likely lead to a significant track evolution advantage for the drivers in later groups.

“I've seen some of the new Tarmac - some places are already ripping apart,” he added to Motorsport.com.

“It might be something like Santiago [back in January where the track broke apart significantly in the intense heat] in a few places.

But regarding the slippery state of the new track surface, NIO 333 driver Oliver Turvey said: “The natural environment [in Riyadh] is quite dusty”.

“The [actual] track surface, the Tarmac looks quite OK, quite good quality – compared to some of the tracks we're race on it's quite smooth,” he continued to Motorsport.com.

Check out our Formula E Podcast...

Shakedown running reduced for 2019-20 

Thursday’s timetable at the Diriyah track included the usual shakedown session, with the drivers limited to running at 110kW.

But for 2019-20, this has been reduced from six laps per driver to three – one out of the pits, a full tour and an in-lap – and from 30 minutes in length to 15.

When asked by Motorsport.com why this change has been made, BMW Andretti team boss Roger Griffiths said: “The thinking behind it is, we come back to many of these places time and again, so we really started to question: do we need a shakedown session at all?

“There are some good valid reasons. It's not just about us shaking-down the cars, it’s about the championship shaking-down the racetrack – we're a pop up event. 

“Then on the flip side, we're also looking at how we become a cost effective championship. And do we really need that shakedown? 

“The movement from six laps to three is a step in that direction – to easing us away from potentially having a shakedown in later seasons.

“Maybe we’d keep it for new races but not for ones we're coming back to.

“If you think back to where Formula E started, we were shaking-down two cars. So, two cars, three laps each, six laps [total]. Now, back to one car, just logically you go back to just three laps.

“The original concept of it has changed dramatically and hence that maybe its relevance is important [but it’s] perhaps diminished somewhat in why we need it.”

shares
comments
Smaller teams can still beat giants in Formula E - d'Ambrosio

Previous article

Smaller teams can still beat giants in Formula E - d'Ambrosio

Next article

Will new giants threaten FE's most-competitive status?

Will new giants threaten FE's most-competitive status?
Load comments
Why electric racing cars should be four-wheel drive Prime

Why electric racing cars should be four-wheel drive

OPINION: Circuit racing has traditionally favoured front- or rear-wheel-drive setups, eschewing the equal distribution of power. But for Formula E and other electric-powered series, our columnist believes it’s a perfect fit.

Formula E
Oct 13, 2021
How motorsport's most prominent power couple found joint success Prime

How motorsport's most prominent power couple found joint success

The Wolffs have carved their own paths in motorsport, leading their respective teams to success in Formula 1 and Formula E. But the two came together last month as their drivers finished first and second in the FE drivers' championship - a feat they are hugely proud of. In a rare joint interview, they reflect on a remarkable season

Formula E
Sep 21, 2021
The top 10 Formula E drivers of 2020-21 Prime

The top 10 Formula E drivers of 2020-21

OPINION: The 2021 Formula E campaign was one without a narrative for much of the season, with no single car or driver able to break away from the pack. That makes choosing a top 10 especially difficult, particularly as the qualifying format meant some worthy performers were unable to enjoy their day in the sun.

Formula E
Sep 19, 2021
How Mercedes and de Vries achieved Formula E glory the hard way Prime

How Mercedes and de Vries achieved Formula E glory the hard way

When Nyck de Vries dominated the first race of what would be the most controversial and unpredictable Formula E season to date, it looked as though Mercedes was in for a cakewalk. But as the campaign wore on, the path to a title double became increasingly rocky. Neither driver or team would be assured of the crown until the closing stages of the very final race on a weekend of struggle in Berlin.

Formula E
Sep 17, 2021
The Formula E 'loan' deal that will keep di Grassi winning Prime

The Formula E 'loan' deal that will keep di Grassi winning

OPINION: The departure of Audi from Formula E meant its long-time driver Lucas di Grassi would need to find a new berth to stay on the grid. His deal at Venturi Racing will ensure the championship's first-ever race winner will remain competitive into the final year of the current Gen2 ruleset - although it may not be a long-term fit

Formula E
Sep 15, 2021
The problems laid bare by Mercedes' impending Formula E departure Prime

The problems laid bare by Mercedes' impending Formula E departure

Mercedes' planned withdrawal from Formula E at the end of the 2022 season will contribute to the big hole left by fellow automotive manufacturers Audi and BMW on their departures. Although the team may stick around under a different guise, the exit of the now-reigning teams' champion underlines FE's current issues...

Formula E
Aug 18, 2021
The F1 dilemma facing Mercedes' new world champion Prime

The F1 dilemma facing Mercedes' new world champion

After clinching the Formula E title at the Berlin finale, Nyck de Vries is a driver in demand. Although Mercedes would love to keep a reigning champion at the team, the allure of a Williams F1 drive may be too much for de Vries to ignore should a potential deal come to pass

Formula E
Aug 17, 2021
How de Vries claimed Formula E title glory as Mercedes exit bombshell looms Prime

How de Vries claimed Formula E title glory as Mercedes exit bombshell looms

As Formula E lined up to complete its seventh season at Berlin's Tempelhof Airport, all eyes were on who would be its first official FIA world champion. Despite Nyck de Vries' title lead heading into the weekend looking all but secure, the Dutchman held on - and enjoyed a good dollop of fortune - to secure a championship double for Mercedes

Formula E
Aug 16, 2021