AD DIRIYAH, Saudi Arabia, December 16, 2018 – The ‘Saudia’ Ad Diriyah E-Prix and accompanying events, such as concerts with international artists like Black Eyed Peas, marked several firsts for Saudi Arabia. For example, spectators from out of country were able to obtain a tourist visa to attend the event that took place between December 13-15 at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Ad Diriyah, outside the Saudi capital of Riyadh.
The championship race yesterday marked the beginning of the fifth season of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship. During the race, 11 Formula E teams used their Gen2 cars in competition for the first time. Fan zones, entertainment and cultural attractions, plus unique dining and retail experiences, were also part of the festivities for Formula E ticketholders.The first-of-its-kind three-day event in Saudi Arabia, included concerts by globally-acclaimed musicians such as Jason Derulo, Enrique Iglesias, Black Eyed Peas, Amr Diab, OneRepublic and David Guetta. Below is what has been said by some participants about this historic Middle East debut of Formula E.
His Royal Highness Prince Abdulaziz Bin Turki AlFaisal Al Saud, Vice-Chair of the Saudi General Sports Authority, said:
“These are unique moments for everyone who came to this historic city to participate and make this special event a success. I am proud to see the amazing results that exceeded all of our expectations and hopes when we decided to hold this race in the Kingdom in line with Vision 2030. I am delighted to thank all those who participated in making this a success, the drivers and sports teams and citizens who welcomed the guests warmly, embodying the essence of Saudi heritage.”
His Royal Highness Prince Khalid bin Sultan Al Faisal, President of the Saudi Arabian Motor Federation, said:
“It is a truly enthusiastic race and an event that words cannot describe. The racetrack has proved to be of high quality and at par with the world’s most important motor racing tracks. I am certain that the success of this event will attract many automotive sports to the Kingdom, and we eagerly look forward to hosting the Formula E race next year.”
António Félix da Costa – Portugal (BMW I Andretti Motorsport), who won first place, said:
”The track was so much fun, especially when you do the first couple of corners and going down the mountain, all the way to 13-14 was so much fun and your focus levels need to be so high for you to do 45-minutes on the limit with this car here. And I actually touched the walls slightly inside earlier in the race and luckily nothing happened. So this was a lot of fun and it is amazing what are we doing now with Formula E.
“This was a fun driving experience but which required high levels of concentration at the same time. I enjoyed this experience very much, and I was delighted to test all these new and exciting experiences in the world of Formula E, and to visit these wonderful cities. I hope I can visit Saudi Arabia again, because these were very special moments for me.”
Jean-Éric Vergne – France (DS Techeetah), who took second place, said:
”We had an amazing venue, racing through the desert which I know wasn’t possible two months ago. I think they’ve done an incredible job and a big thank you to all of them (Formula E organisers). I had a good pace, I was really hungry for victory today but things this morning didn’t really go as planned but I was actually confident in this race.. and I don’t know how many overtakes I had today (Saturday) but I had a lot of fun behind the wheel.”
Jérôme D’Ambrosio – Belgium (Mahindra Racing), who came in third, said:
”I have had two difficult years, and it’s great to start this new relationship with the team in this way. We worked really hard over the past two months to be ready and faster with our pace and still .. during the race I didn’t have a lot of confidence… to (overtake) Jean-Éric Vergne so I felt I should rather keep to the podium then do something silly. And it is an amazing way to start and I am really, really happy to be part of such a great team, great atmosphere and lots of great people. It is a great way to start and we can build on this. As you know, I have only been working with the team for a few months and it takes time to know the team and we have some good days ahead of us if we continue to work like this.”
Kirill Dmitriev, CEO of Russian Direct Investment Fund, said:
“The Formula E Championship race in the ancient cradle of Saudi Arabia, Ad Diriya, is another unique example of the historic steps the country’s leadership is taking to implement its Vision 2030 and follow a path to moderate Islam.
The event not only promotes electric cars and cutting-edge technologies in the oil-rich country but also showcases the first ever mass popular music concerts in the Kingdom with the performers including the Black Eyed Peas and David Guetta.
Such events will help attract tourists to the previously closed country and are a true celebration for aspiring young Saudis who desire a bright future.
The vision of moderate Islam, promoted by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is important both for the region and the entire world, its realisation needs to be appreciated, respected and supported.”
Susie Wolff, the first female team principal in Formula E, said:
“I think the whole fact of being built up and the concerts yesterday evening is all fantastic. It shows progress and I think, from our perspective, being able to come here and put on a sporting event, which is breaking ground in a country which has never had such events, is for us something very positive. So, in that perspective, we are proud to be part of such an event and so happy to see so much progress being made.”
John Marcar, events company owner from London, said:
“Saudi is an incredible country. Genuinely one of the most welcoming collective of communities I’ve experienced in any country in the world.”