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Lights, Camera, Action: Formula E Returns to Saudi Arabia, in the sport’s first-ever night race

Formula E Racing is gearing up for a return to Saudi Arabia next weekend, following a heavily disrupted season in 2020 due to the rise of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The season’s first weekend race, which also is the first night race in the sport’s history, will course through Diriyah, a UNESCO World Heritage site, illuminated by a low-energy, LED system. The entire track will be powered using renewable energy. The cars themselves are fully electric, pushing the boundaries of electric vehicles while changing the fundamentals of car racing itself. 

Spectators are in for a treat this weekend, as the low-emission race courses through the track. The ultra-efficient LED lighting will reduce energy consumption by half, while the floodlighting will be also powered by renewable fuels. The net zero carbon emissions are a substantial win for the environment, embracing a forward-looking vision of what racing will look like in the decades to come. Formula E’s commitment to combating climate change and promoting a zero-emission future is a perfect match for Saudi Arabia, which is on its own sustainable journey towards a modern, inclusive Kingdom as part of its Vision 2030 economic plan. Against the backdrop of the ancient Diriyah site, it will be exciting to see the cutting-edge of sustainable technology that will no doubt become more and more common in our everyday lives. 

Overcoming the Constraints of the Pandemic 

However, racing teams will still be grappling with the pandemic, with social distancing measures enforced on many aspects of teamwork, through coordination with Saudi ministries. Further, attendance has been limited to only 2,000 lucky spectators, falling short of the 20-30,000 usually in attendance. In addition, the teams have received special exceptions form the government to pass through the country’s currently closed borders, and must pass a series of PCR tests before being allowed on-site. A 48 hour mandatory quarantine upon arrival is also in effect. Learning from successes of last year’s races in Berlin and elsewhere, the organisers are using their knowledge of best practices to good use. The Formula E medical protocols are being strictly enforced to ensure that the event is done safely, including a mobile PCR laboratory. 

Despite the challenges, the race is shaping up to be one for the history books, and one that you surely don’t want to miss. To find out how to watch it in your area, visit the Formula E website.