Formula E drivers explored Saudi Arabia and the local community as the 2018 ‘Saudia’ Ad Diriyah E-Prix festivities took place.
After visiting the UNESCO World Site of Ad Diriyah which is home to the new race track, drivers also visited Masmak Fort, built in 1865.
Oliver Turvey, from the United Kingdom was part of a trio of drivers from team NIO who on Thursday took the opportunity to learn more about the fort’s heritage and history. He also took the time to look ahead to the big race, which makes Formula E’s debut in the Middle East.
“I am really enjoying being here in a different culture. We want to show that electric cars are fast and strong,” he said.
Teammate Tom Dilmann was already anticipating Saturday’s action.
“The track looks exciting, I’m really looking forward to it and am very excited for the race. Showing that we can race electric cars in the city, the future is here,” he said.
Jammy Chadwick, also from the UK, will be part of racing history in Saudi Arabia when she joins several other women on the starting grid of a ‘Rookie Test’ to discover new Formula E talent.
“This will be my first proper official test this Sunday, it’s a huge opportunity for me to learn and try the experience. It’s a positive message to have female drivers competing for the first time in Saudi, it sends a clear message of welcoming to everyone,” she said.
It was back to the future for drivers from the Mahindra Racing as they warmed up for the big race of Saturday taking on local competition, in the form of excited school children, at the Doos Karting Track in Riyadh.
They were cheered on by Prince Khalid bin Sultan, President of the Saudi Arabian Motor Federation, who joined the fun.
Jerome d'Ambrosio, Felix Rosenqvist and Nick Heidfeld were put through their paces by children from King Faisal elementary and Trbiyah Namouthajiyah Schools.
Noura AL Shebani, 12, and Fahad Al Shenefi, 8, had the “time of their lives” racing against the Formula E drivers.
“If I had a little bit more time I could have won,” Noura told the race drivers after the race.
Belgian racer Jerome d’Ambrosio said: “We always have a wonderful and fun time karting. It reminds us of when we were young. Karting is almost how all racing drivers start, and we enjoy every opportunity like this one to just have fun.”
Meanwhile, Swedish driver Rosenqvist loved that the go-karts were electric, in keeping with the rather much bigger race about to unfold on Saturday.
He said: “Even at this level you can feel the instant power when coming out of a turn unlike Go Karts with combustion engines. It’s also better because when you can have indoor tracks which are very convenient in Saudi.”