Formula E boss says Saudi race well on track

Alejandro Agag said the Kingdom is ‘the home of Formula E.’ (AN Photo)
Updated 14 December 2018

Formula E boss says Saudi race well on track

  • The Riyadh Formula E race will be international motorsport’s first move into Saudi Arabia, with all eyes on the Ad Diriyah track
  • Formula E supremo Alejandro Agag expressed his excitement that Saudi Arabia, as with former Formula One hero Massa, is making its bow in the sport

RIYADH: With motor racing star Felipe Massa set to make his Formula E debut, the inaugural Saudi Arabia E-Prix in Riyadh was always likely to be a stunning spectacle of speed.

But the sport’s supremo Alejandro Agag has promised race fans yet more big surprises before the green light signals go at the Ad Diriyah street circuit on Dec.15, claiming the Kingdom is “the home of Formula E.”

Speaking at the Future Investment Initiative conference in the Saudi Arabian capital, Agag expressed his excitement that Saudi Arabia, as with former Formula One hero Massa, is making its bow in the sport and predicted the country would have a big influence on its future.

“This is now the home of formula E,” Agag said.

“Thanks to the vision of HRH Crown Prince Mohammed, for the first time in Saudi Arabia these cars will be here, it’s the motorsport of the future.”

While he refused to reveal any of the big announcements surrounding the race he did praise the forward thinking of a country with the largest oil exports in the world going full-throttle in embracing electric cars.

That forward thinking has been matched away from the track, with Agag acknowledging the Vision 2030 reforms made by Kingdom’s rulers over the past two years.

“We could not race in Saudi Arabia if women could not drive. I think that Saudi Arabia is taking the right steps, and that is what attracted us,” the Spaniard said.

Thanks to the Bahrain and Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the Middle East has long been associated with motorsport, and it is well known that the region is awash with petrolheads. The Riyadh Formula E race, however, will be international motorsport’s first move into Saudi Arabia, so all eyes will be on the Ad Diriyah track. Located in the birthplace of the Kingdom the circuit, revealed last month, has excited the drivers, Agag revealed.

The drivers cannot wait for the season to start in Riyadh, they are looking forward to racing around the new track, he added.

Jerry Inzerillo, CEO of Ad Diriyah gate development, is certain the Middle East’s newest track will not disappoint the racers and all the petrolheads set to descend on the capital.

“The preparations are fabulous,” Inzerillo told Arab News.

“Everybody has to come out and see it, it will be so much fun.”

Touching on plans for the wider development, to be announced in the coming weeks, he added: “It’s going to be the jewel of the Kingdom as it already is. There is a very bold masterplan, but when you see what is planned, Ad Diriyah as it should be is going to be the great gathering place for people all around the world. It is certainly the soul of the Saudi nation.”

Inquest begins at LA Lakers as LeBron James misses out on NBA playoffs

Updated 6 min 54 sec ago

Inquest begins at LA Lakers as LeBron James misses out on NBA playoffs

LONDON: The post-mortem on Los Angeles’ Lakers season has begun after the storied franchise missed out on the NBA playoffs for a sixth consecutive year this weekend.
It was not meant to be like this, especially after the signing of LeBron James — the man who single-handedly dragged his hometown team Cleveland Cavaliers to a championship in 2016 and was instrumental in Miami Heat’s dominance in the first half of the decade.
James’ mercurial talent was often the difference for those two franchises in clutch situations throughout the season, but for all the fanfare on his arrival at the Staples Center last summer, the “James Effect” has failed to materialize in California.
He has often called his own superhuman efforts in the run up to — and during — the postseason the “Playoff Mode,” but even the genius of James was not enough to put his new franchise into the picture.
It did not help that as soon as it became clear they were not going to be appear beyond April 10, made all the clearer by a recent humbling defeat to the league’s worst team (New York Knicks), James has been benched more and more by the management.
And it speaks volumes about the problems at the Lakers that it will be the first playoffs without James featuring since 2005. Not only had he played in the playoffs for 13 consecutive seasons with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Miami Heat, he had also played in eight straight NBA finals.
Granted, James — a three-time NBA champion and four-time league Most Valuable Player — was adamant back in September that the task of rebuilding the Lakers, who had missed the playoffs for five straight seasons would be a long-term project.
“Obviously, I would love for the team to be in the post-season,” James said as soon as it became clear he and the team would miss out on the playoff party.
“But right now, it’s not the hand I was dealt, so you play the hand that you were dealt until the dealer shuffles the cards and you’re dealt another hand and can do that.”
So what has gone so terribly wrong with the Lakers this year?
A big factor was injuries, not only to James but to other key players, throughout the season.
Everything looked rosy for the Lakers toward the end of December when they thrashed reigning champions Golden State Warriors, but a groin injury to James was a sign of the bad run to come. In his 17-game absence, the Lakers won just six games.
Then Lonzo Ball sprained an ankle in January, leaving the Lakers defense very vulnerable while Brandon Ingram, who had been influential in the team reaching the dizzying heights of fourth place in the Western Conference, was ruled out for the rest of the season due to a blood clot in his arm. Those certainly were damaging injuries.
The Lakers, also, have built too much of the team and its tactics around James. They have a good core of young talent in Ball, Ingram and Kyle Kuzuma, but management has not utilized them nearly well enough. Instead, for the first half of the season definitely, there was too much focus put on James and he was expected to win games almost by himself. Even the greatest player of a generation needs help from time to time.
The boardroom has to take some responsibility, too. Letting players like Brook Lopez (having a remarkable season with this year’s huge surprise package the Milwaukee Bucks), Julius Randle who averages 20 points per game at New Orleans and Brooklyn’s D’Angelo Russell (picked as an All-Star this year) leave was a major mistake on the Lakers’ part.
There will need to be a big rethink in the off-season at the Lakers, but with James admitting a break from the high-pressure playoffs will give him time to “recalibrate body and mind,” you cannot rule out “King James” coming back better and stronger than ever to claim a fourth NBA title and bring back the good times to LA.