World watching Porsche's arrival into Formula E in Saudi Arabia, says Mark Webber

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Speaking exclusively to Arab News, Porsche ambassador Mark Webber said the German team’s entrance into Formula E at the season-opener in the Kingdom was a huge opportunity. (Photo: Faisal Albisher)
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Ahead of the Diriyah ePrix, Webber drove Porsche’s first all-electric road vehicle -- the Taycan -- from Dubai to Riyadh with Saudi driver Aseel Al-Hamad. The model goes on sale in the Middle East in 2020. (Porsche)
Updated 24 November 2019

World watching Porsche's arrival into Formula E in Saudi Arabia, says Mark Webber

  • Webber dove the new all-electric Porsche Taycan from Dubai to Riyadh
  • Says arrival of Taycan and Porsche into Formula E in Saudi Arabia is 'huge opportunity'

RIYADH: Former Formula One driver Mark Webber, said he was excited, confident and optimistic about the ABB Formula E Championship race in Diriyah this weekend.

Speaking to Arab News, the Porsche ambassador also said the German team’s entrance into Formula E at the season-opener in the Kingdom was a huge opportunity. 

“Everyone is watching Porsche's arrival into Formula E this weekend in Saudi Arabia. It is a huge opportunity for us to show what we intend to do going forward and where we're optimistc, but we're very respectful of the opposition,” he said.

“The driver level is extremely high, let’s see if we can get a podium, but I think it might be a little step too far this weekend,” he added.

Webber, who is also an International Automobile Federation (FIA) World Endurance Champion, said that it was an exciting time for Porsche to enter a new championship and that he was impressed with the maturity of the Formula E championship. 

“It's established and it's going all around the world racing and taking races to the people. So, it's really under their nose to watch what Formula E has to offer.” 

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RELATED: Motorsport must encourage more women to compete, says Saudi female driver Aseel Al-Hamad

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However, Webber said Porsche were under no illusions about how tough Formula E was going to be and that it would be a tough championship for them to compete in.

“We know we've got some top rivals. Porsche absolutely loves to come in with their eyes open, respectful of the opposition.

“But, ultimately, we want to have success as soon as possible. That's why we go motor racing. We have a great team of people in place to get the job done. we're confident that we can do a good job by itself. Of Course, it might take a bit of time and a bit of patience, but we're excited to be here” he added. 

Webber spoke to Arab News after driving the new Porsche Taycan, the firm’s newest all-electric model, with Saudi driver Aseel Al-Hamad from Dubai to Riyadh ahead of the city's Diriyah E-Prix this weekend. 

And the experience of the car cemented his views about the electric motoring evolution, saying that motorsport has been a key facet to driving technology.

“That's something which the automotive companies have rested on for a long period of time, particularly at Porsche. They're very consistent with racing on track and then taking their best products and their best materials into the street section and have the opportunity for the customers to use that type of product. So, it's an exciting time.”




Ahead of the Diriyah ePrix, Webber drove Porsche’s first all-electric road vehicle -- the Taycan -- from Dubai to Riyadh with Saudi driver Aseel Al-Hamad. The model goes on sale in the Middle East in 2020. (Porsche)

Driving fully electric sports car like the Taycan is a transition for him. 

“We went from combustion engines into hybrid, which we were very successful with at the Le Mans 24-hour race, with a record number of victories Porsche have won there, it's something we're very proud of.

“Then the obvious question was when are we going to go fully electric? And that answer arrived with the arrival of the new Taycan,” he said.

The Taycan is among the most powerful production models that the sports car manufacturer currently has in its product range, and Webber is a fan.

“It's fully electric, and yes, it's a Porsche sports car. Obviously, the days of the combustion engine in terms of racing are coming under pressure because of this new technology and everyone's very excited about that.”

The Porsche Taycan is manufactured in Zuffenhausen, Stuttgart, the heart and soul of the Porsche brand and will be available in the Middle East in 2020. 

Webber said that his arrival into Riyadh was his first time driving in Saudi Arabia and in a Taycan, and explained how groundbreaking it was to be using such technology. 

“When technology comes along and these manufacturers and their clever engineers want to find a new way to get people around in a sustainable way and in their eco-friendly way, then it's a great opportunity for me to drive the Porsche here and bring the Taycan to town.

“The synergy between racing with the Formula E this weekend and the Taycan arriving, trhe timing is perfect. It's a nice marriage this weekend for the on track and off track.”

Webber explained his role in the Porsche Soul Journey with Al-Hamad, a showcase of Porsche’s first all-electric sports car and the brand’s inaugural season in the Formula-E series.

“We've been going through the regions through different, very significant locations, and I've been getting a bit of an education process along the way because it's her region, which has been great,”

He said that he too has been trying to educate her on the technology of the car. 

“I know the car pretty well and I know it's been exciting times also in the area for women to drive cars (in the Kingdom).”

Speaking ahead of the Diriyah E-Prix, when asked whether he might venture back into competitive racing in Formula E, the Australian was philosophical. 

“I am very old now, it’s a young man's game, and I’m very happy with my Formula One career and I'm watching Formula E with interest.”


Tunisia’s Jabeur becomes first Arab woman to reach Slam quarters

Updated 26 January 2020

Tunisia’s Jabeur becomes first Arab woman to reach Slam quarters

  • Jabeur, the highest-ranked Arab woman in history, is the first Tunisian woman to win a main-draw match at the Australian Open

MELBOURNE: Unseeded Tunisian Ons Jabeur sent Chinese hope Wang Qiang crashing out of the Australian Open on Sunday to become the first Arab woman to reach a Grand Slam quarter-final.
Wang stunned Serena Williams in the third round but the 27th seed ran out of steam against the powerful Jabeur, who fought back from a break down in the first set to win 7-6 (7/4), 6-1.
Jabeur, the highest-ranked Arab woman in history — she reached a career-high 51 last year — is the first Tunisian woman to win a main-draw match at the Australian Open.
“I’m really shaking right now, it’s unbelievable, I can’t describe how I feel,” said the 25-year-old, who will play America’s Sofia Kenin in the last eight.
“Last time Kenin won against me so maybe it’ll be my revenge,” added Jabeur, who lost to Kenin last year in Hobart and retired against her in Mallorca.