Switzerland’s Nico Müller is in his third season in Formula E. The 30-year-old finished a fine fifth in Diriyah in 2021. Following his team-mate Robin Frijns’ crash at the season-opener in Mexico, reserve driver Kelvin van der Linde from South America takes his place at the wheel of the second car for the ABT CUPRA FORMULA E TEAM.
What are the standout features of the circuit in Diriyah?
“It is an extremely demanding track. In my opinion, it is actually the ultimate Formula E circuit, as far as the characteristics are concerned: very flowing and fast, yet also tight and narrow. You can feel the barriers everywhere. The circuit does not forgive any mistakes and the layout is challenging for us drivers. It is one corner after another. You have to be in the flow to be fast there, and use every centimetre of this narrow tunnel between the concrete walls. On top of that, you have the changes in elevation, which affect the way the car handles. It gets particularly interesting at the start of sector two, when you dive down into a dip. That is one of the fastest combinations of corners, with turns eight, nine and ten. The only spot where the drivers and tyres can ‘take a quick breather’ is the back straight between turns 17 and 18. That is also where the start takes place.”
How much strain is put on the tyres?
“The tyres are permanently under stress between turn one and turn 17. One change in direction leads into the next. I think it will definitely give the Hankook iON a good work-out. The tyre will be put under extreme strain laterally. It is important to keep the minimum speeds high and take advantage of the potential lateral grip of the tyre. There are several spots on the track, where you have to brake very hard. Once in turn 18, a little less so in the final corner, and again in turn one.“
How will the night race affect performance?
“The lack of sunshine in the evening will make for a big difference in temperature compared to free practice one, FP3 and the qualifying sessions, which will take place in the daytime. That obviously has a very big influence on the operating window of the tyre. Our job is to get the tyre into the ideal operating window, in order to get the optimal performance out of it. That is another new challenge that we are facing, and one that I am really looking forward to.”
What role will the desert sand play?
The track is very sandy, especially at the start of the race weekend. That has a big effect on the overall grip level. With time, a relatively narrow line forms, which is only a little wider than our car. You have to find that line, as that is where the grip gradually starts to improve.