Gary Paffett will contest his first-ever ABB FIA Formula E Championship race this Saturday as he and his HWA RACELAB team make their debut in the all-electric series at the opening round of the 2018/19 season at the Ad Diriyah E-Prix in Saudi Arabia.
Ending a legendary fifteen-year career in the DTM in October, the 2005 and 2018 Champion will now fly the rookie flag as he makes his debut in a new series for the first time since 2003. Not only will this be the first outing for Gary and HWA RACELAB in the series, but it is also the first race to feature the Gen2 car, which is capable of completing a full Formula E race without a mid-race car swap. This weekend will also take the ABB FIA Formula E grid to a new location as the 2.495 km, 21-turn, Ad-Diriyah Formula E Circuit hosts its first ePrix.
Not only will we see a new, more powerful car in Saudi Arabia but also some new rule changes that promise to make the action even more exciting. “Attack Mode” will provide drivers with an additional 25 kW of power by driving through a designated area of the circuit off the racing line - opening the door for more overtaking and even closer racing. Races will also no longer be run to a set number of laps and will instead last forty-five minutes, with one additional lap once the time limit has expired.
Excited for the new challenge, Gary Paffett is keen to get out on track but knows there is still a lot to learn.
"Formula E is a new adventure for me and the team. We obviously still have a lot to learn - and not just at the first race weekend. I am really looking forward to my first weekend in Formula E. It is going to be tough and difficult, as this series is really competitive. We just have to try not to make any mistakes and get off to a good start."
Ulrich Fritz, Team Principal HWA RACELAB, shares Gary’s enthusiasm but remains aware of the challenge ahead.
"The whole team is obviously delighted that the Formula E adventure is now officially up and running. For HWA AG, the race in Riyadh also marks a historic moment in the company's history. This is the first time a team will race under the name HWA RACELAB. However, we have to be realistic with our expectations. We are new to the series. The same is true of our drivers. And Riyadh, with its narrow layout, together with the sand and dust that is to be expected on the track, is definitely not the easiest circuit on the calendar. Our goal is to put on a good show and avoid making any major mistakes, then we'll see where we end up on Saturday afternoon.”
With the ‘race weekend’ completed in one day, a busy Saturday will see free practice kick off proceedings at 04:00 (GMT), with qualifying at 09:50 and the race getting underway at 12:05.