Felipe Massa ready for Formula E challenge around the streets of Riyadh

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Not only will the December date mark the Kingdom’s entry into Formula E, but it will also mark Felipe Massa’s debut into the bourgeoning sport. (Ali Al-Thahry)
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Not only will the December date mark the Kingdom’s entry into Formula E, but it will also mark Felipe Massa’s debut into the bourgeoning sport. (Ali Al-Thahry)
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Not only will the December date mark the Kingdom’s entry into Formula E, but it will also mark Felipe Massa’s debut into the bourgeoning sport. (Ali Al-Thahry)
Updated 14 December 2018

Felipe Massa ready for Formula E challenge around the streets of Riyadh

  • Not only will the December date mark the Kingdom’s entry into Formula E, but it will also mark Massa’s debut
  • Massa called the Formula E vehicles “the car of the next generation”

Noor Nugali Riyadh: Felipe Massa cannot wait to get behind the wheel of a Formula E car and jumpstart his new career when the spectacle of speed storms into Riyadh for the season opener on Dec. 15.
The Saudi Arabia capital was named as the newest stopping point for the sport in May, with it being the first race of a 13-race season, which sees the electric-powered cars tackle street circuits across the globe.
Not only will the December date mark the Kingdom’s entry into Formula E, but it will also mark Massa’s debut, having left the Formula One paddock for the growing sport. And the 37-year-old told Arab News he is excited about the prospect of tackling the streets of Ad Diriyah, the oldest part of the capital, in one of the electrically powered speed machines.
“I am ready for the race. It’s a fantastic feeling driving around the city, the town, it’s historical. It will be a big event,” Massa said at press conference to announce Saudi Arabian Airlines’ new long-term partnership as official airline partner of the all-electric series.
“I’m really happy to be a part of this new challenge for my career. In a new place and country, it’s motivating.”
Having won 11 Grands Prix during an illustrious career in F1, during which time he raced for Ferrari, some might think Massa would not be daunted by the move to Formula E. The Brazilian, however, is taking nothing for granted.

“It’s a big challenge for me to change categories, to Formula E,” he said, having got a chance to put some early practice in as he took a Gen2 car around the streets of the capital.
“Learning everything is a challenge. It’s different cars, different tracks and a different way of driving. I need to learn and grow to understand but I like new challenges.”
Massa called the Formula E vehicles “the car of the next generation” and it is hoped that the Ad Diriyah race helps the changing face of Saudi Arabia by inspiring more women to get behind the wheel in the Kingdom — something not lost on Massa.
“I heard that women are driving (in Saudi Arabia) now and that’s fantastic — hopefully in the future there will female racers,” he said.
“We are racing in a country (whose main export is oil), and we are racing with electric cars. I think it shows that this country wants to change its mentality and its thinking of the future. It’s really positive and I’m so happy to be a part of this.”
Thanks to the Bahrain and Abu Dhabi Grands 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.
But rather than look to bring F1 to the country his Abdul Aziz Bin Turki Al-Faisal, vice-chair of the General Sports Authority, revealed that Formula E was the only format they wanted to see in the capital.
“This is a truly game-changing moment for Saudi Arabia and one that we can share with the world,” he said. “It is very fitting that the such a futuristic and sustainable sport as Formula E is pointing to the future direction of our country.
“Saudi Arabia is home to literally millions of passionate young fans of motorsport, many of whom simply cannot believe that Felipe Massa took the Gen2 car around the streets of the capital today and that they now have a ‘home race’ on the Formula E calendar. So already the excitement is building, especially since we’re adding live music concerts to the weekend line-up.”
The track Massa and Co. will be tackling this December was revealed at the press conference. At 1.76 miles long, the first road circuit in the Middle East features 21 corners, a number of which are long flowing ones taken at high speed. It is hoped that the race will get both Saudi Arabia’s entry to the sport and the season itself off to a spectacular start, and in doing so inspire a new generation of speed demons.
Prince Khalid bin Sultan Al-Faisal Al-Saud, president of the Saudi Arabian Motor Federation, said: “Something we haven’t announced yet, is that there will be a support race for Formula E.
“It’s the Jaguar I-Pace trophy, it will race around the world with the Formula E circuit.
“Saudi Arabia will participate in that championship as a national team with two Saudi Arabian drivers and we will announce the names soon.”


Zidane urges Real Madrid to come out fighting against Barca

Ferencvaros’ midfielders Eldar Civic and Aissa Laidouni challenge Barcelona’s forward Lionel Messi during a recent football match. (File/AFP)
Updated 24 October 2020

Zidane urges Real Madrid to come out fighting against Barca

  • Defiant coach: Players must show their character and quality at Saturday’s match

MADRID: Zinedine Zidane says he has the full support of Real Madrid president Florentino Perez and has called on his players to turn their season around by beating Barcelona on Saturday.

Madrid and their coach head to Camp Nou under pressure after consecutive defeats to Cadiz in La Liga and Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League.
Asked on Friday if he still feels the backing of the club and president, Zidane said: “Yes, from everyone. I have won many things with these players and I will always be with them to the death. I will always be with them.
“But we have to change our momentum, we have had two difficult games, and that’s what this is all about. There are always bad moments but there are those teams in those moments that show their character and quality. We have to do that tomorrow.”
Zidane said Sergio Ramos will be available to face Barcelona after recovering from the knee injury that kept him out of the loss to Shakhtar on Wednesday.
“Sergio is our captain, our leader,” said Zidane. “He’s recovered, he’s going to be with us. It’s about being 100 percent though and I think that Sergio is already there.”
Barcelona are also coming into the Clasico on the back of a loss in the league, although they responded to the 1-0 defeat by Getafe last weekend by winning 5-1 at home to Ferencvaros on Tuesday in the Champions League.
“In theory, both teams are under a lot of pressure,” said Ronald Koeman, who will be taking charge of his first Clasico as Barcelona coach.
“Maybe in the last couple of weeks Madrid haven’t been at their level but this doesn’t mean that they are a bad team.
“They are a big team, with experienced players, who know how to cope with the pressure, and they will want more than anyone to win this match after their two defeats.”
“I don’t expect a vulnerable Madrid, I expect the opposite,” Koeman added.
There are doubts over Antoine Griezmann, who stayed on the bench for Barca’s victory in midweek.
It was not clear whether the Frenchman had been dropped or rested. “He has a chance to play,” said Koeman.
“But it’s not good to discuss his role for every game.”
Jordi Alba has been included in the squad after recovering from a hamstring injury but it remains to be seen if the left-back is deemed ready to start.
“Always the last word is with the player,” said Koeman. “If there’s no reaction he has a good chance of playing tomorrow.”