2022 Formula E season kicks off with two rounds in Saudi Arabia at a World Heritage Site

2022 Formula E
2022 Formula E

The 2022 ABB FIA Formula E World Championship season, the eighth for this circuit, kicks off January 28 and 29 in Saudi Arabia with the first two rounds of 16 that make up the 2022 calendar. Ten circuits will host races this year with a mix of doubleheaders and standalone races.

The 1.55-mile, 21-turn Diriyah Circuit in At-Turaif, Saudi Arabia hosts a pair of night races around a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Diriyah Circuit is a mix of long straights and the tight turns that have come to be associated with the Formula E series.

To make the most of this balance, the starting line and finish line are in separate spots on course. The green flag will wave on the backstretch and lead to one of the best passing corners, Turn 18. The finish line is located on another long straight, just past the final corner, which is a sharp 90-degree turn alongside the pits.

This complex of turns leads past an ancient walled city that is one of Saudi Arabia’s most historic sites.

MORE: Oliver Askew becomes first American to compete full time in Formula E

The last complex of turns on the Diriyah Circuit in At-Turaif are contested in the shadow of one of Saudi Arabia’s most historic sites. (FiaFormulaE.com)

The end of the finish line stretch and entirety of the front straight is made up of undulating turns. There are 14 turns in this complex before a sweeping “S”-straight leads to another sharp 90-degree turn onto the long back straight. With the races being contested at night, the walls will seem even closer.

“I love racing in Saudi – the track is amazing,” said two-time champion Antonio Felix da Costa at FiaFormulaE.com. “I was the first winner there in Season 5 and I’ve got great memories. We go well every time we go there.

“With it being a night race, your practice and qualifying happen during the day and then you race at night. Temperatures change, along with the track surface with the sand getting brushed away.

“Your perceptions also change with the shadows changing. It takes a little bit of adaptation and training to the eye but I love the different variables and it definitely creates a better show for the fans. It’s very cool to race there, and great to watch – especially at night.”

Round 1 of last year’s season opener was won by Nyck de Vries on his way to also winning the championship.

The following night, Round 2 was won by England’s Sam Bird.

Two high profile drivers join the series in 2022. With 17 IndyCar starts to his credit and one podium finish, Oliver Askew will become the first American-born driver to compete full time in Formula E. Former Formula 1 driver Antonio Giovinazzi moves into the series after competing with Alfa Romeo in 2021.

Ryan Hunter-Reay hired as replacement for Conor Daly at Ed Carpenter Racing

Ryan Hunter-Reay Carpenter
Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Ryan Hunter-Reay was named to replace Conor Daly in Ed Carpenter Racing’s No. 20 Dallara-Chevrolet, starting in the NTT IndyCar Series event next week at Road America.

Hunter-Reay is the 2012 series champion and 2014 Indianapolis 500 winner. He finished 11th for Dreyer & Reinbold last month in the 107th Indy 500, his first start since the 2021 season finale. He drove full time for Andretti Autosport from 2010-21.

“We need to improve our competitiveness and I wanted to add a fresh perspective from a driver like Ryan who has a massive amount of experience and success as well as a reputation as a team leader. I am excited to welcome Ryan to the team,” team owner Ed Carpenter said in a team release. “We have worked together in the past as teammates and he tested for ECR at Barber Motorsports Park in October 2021, where he made an immediate impact as we were able to qualify one of our cars on the pole following that test. I am confident that his experience and technical abilities will be an asset to ECR as we move forward toward our goals as a team.”

Hunter-Reay has 18 IndyCar victories, most recently in 2018. He also is a winner in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, having been a part of winning entries in the 2020 Twelve Hours of Sebring and 2018 Petit Le Mans. Last year, he was an endurance driver for Cadillac Racing while being on standby for Chip Ganassi Racing.

He replaces Daly, whose departure was announced a day earlier in what the driver and team said was a mutual decision.

“I was surprised when I got the call from Ed,” Hunter-Reay said in a team release. “He described how frustrated he was that his team has not been able to realize its potential despite their efforts, investments, as well as technical and personnel changes over the past few years and asked for my help. Ed and I are very close friends and have been for a long time. I’ve worked with the team in the past and they are a very talented group with high expectations and a committed partner in BITNILE.COM.

“This will certainly be a challenge for me as well. It’s a tough situation jumping in a car in the middle of the season without any testing in what I believe to be the most competitive series in the world. Certainly, part of my motivation in saying ‘yes’ to Ed is the great challenge ahead. The last time I turned right driving an NTT IndyCar Series car was in October of 2021 with this team at Barber. However, I remain very confident in both my driving and technical abilities and believe by working with the talented people at ECR and Team Chevy, while representing BITNILE.COM, we will make progress. I am going to do everything I can do to help the team achieve its long-term objectives.”

Said Milton “Todd” Ault, the chairman of sponsor BitNile.com: “It is great for BitNile.com to be aligned with an Indy 500 Winner and an NTT IndyCar Series champion. I have followed Ryan’s career for years and I am confident he will challenge the entire ECR team to perform at higher levels. I wish everyone luck at Road America.”