New Mahindra Racing signing Jerome d’Ambrosio believes the Ad Diriyah circuit, which will host next weekend’s ABB FIA Formula E Championship opener, will offer up several unique challenges.
The Belgian, who will race for Mahindra for the first time in Saudi Arabia, expects that the series of sweeping corners in the first half of the 1.55-mile circuit will be key to good lap times.
The series of corners have been likened by some, in layout at least, to those in the first sector at Suzuka.
The flow of these turns are expected to be a critical part of the lap as they come in quick succession and will necessitate continued momentum.
“This is definitely not a classic Formula E track that we have used before, especially all the way from turn 1 to turn 14 which will be a lot of part-throttle and high speed for Formula E,” d’Ambrosio told e-racing365 just after a simulator session on the Saudi track.
“This will make it very interesting in terms of race and energy management. It really is like no other track we have used.
“I’m not sure how it will play out in terms of overtaking and it looks like it could be quite tough apart from a few obvious points like at the end of the big straight.”
D’Ambrosio’s engineer this season will be Andres Castillo who has previously worked with Felix Rosenqvist, engineering the Swede to his three Formula E race wins with Mahindra.
Castillo expects the unknowns of the Saudi track’s surface could also be one of the defining topics in the opening race of the Gen 2 era.
“We don’t have so much information about the tarmac which is challenging for everyone as we have the new tires,” said Castillo.
“The tires will be laterally loaded for a long time over the lap and we don’t have so much information.
“We saw in Valencia that all the teams had to manage the tires and as we know this is not a classic Formula E track.”
With the Gen 2 cars slightly heavier than their predecessors, the application of the attack mode boost and the need for the tires to last a whole race this season, the management of the new design of Michelins is expected to be a key factor during the coming season.
“The distance now is almost double for the tire and we haven’t had major issues with managing tire wear in the past,” said Castillo.
“The closest we got to this was Berlin when it was hot in 2017 and the tough tarmac caused some [tire] management and strategy.”