The UIM E1 World Championship, a brand new electric powerboating series founded by the people involved in Extreme E and the FIA Formula E World Championship, made its global debut on the new shores of major Motorsports in Asia – Saudi Arabia. The race marked the inaugural round of the championship, and Jeddah was the host.

The series has F1 Scuderia Ferrari engineer Rodi Basso as CEO and big-name team owners such as Sergio Perez, Tom Brady, Rafael Nadal, and India’s superstar Virat Kohli. Each team requires one male and one female driver, who race the spec RaceBird. It is the race to Hong Kong in the championship to decide the first-ever champion. Asian Motorsport brings to you the first round as it happened.


The first round came thick and fast as the teams got through with pre-season testing in head-to-head racing conditions for the first time just a week before. It was action-packed as the teams themselves learned about each other, the format, and the Racebird itself.

The drivers were selected from a pool of experienced racers on water and those who received training under the Academy from the series itself.

Aoki Racing, by Steve Aoki, fronted two local Saudi Arabian drivers, Saud Ahmed and Mashael Alobaidan. Team Drogba reached out to the neighbours, UAE and got Yousef Alabdulrazzaq as the male driver. The Indian team, Team Blue Rising, invested in Lisa Battaglia and Phelim Kavanagh. Team Miami and Team Rafa decided to particularly select those with a history in Powerboating or Jet Skiing to build on the experience of the specific challenges of racing on water.

THE JEDDAH GP: QUALIFYING

Qualifying took place with two teams going out in drawn pairs, in two different lanes, and doing three laps with their first driver and then three further laps with their second driver with lanes switched. The cumulative time of the team made up the final time.

Qualifying saw a lot of water-breaking action, especially from E1 Team Miami, who set a blistering time of six minutes and 23.336 seconds, earning them 1 championship point. Team Rafa followed behind with a ten-second margin. Sergio Perez E1 Team were last placed as they suffered a 30 second penalty due to a jump start by Vicky Piria. The qualifying results set the two groups for the semi-final heats.

GROUP A: Team Miami, Team Brady, Sergio Perez E1 Team & Team Drogba
GROUP B: Team Rafa, Team Blue Rising, Team Brazil & Aoki Racing Team

THE JEDDAH GP SEMIS:

Each group will run two semi-finals, and the combined results will lead to the top two from each group making it to the Super Final. The other four will go to a place race to decide the bottom four positions and accordingly award championship points. Each driver will run one of the semi-final runs.

Team Rafa won both of their semi-final sessions with strong runs and stable operation of the RaceBird. In their group, Team Blue Rising finished second, meaning the Indian team also made it to the first-ever E1 World Championship Super Final. Team Miami and Team Brady made it out of the other group, with each trading a victory.

In the first semi-final, Emma Kimiläinen took a final-lap victory by putting in a mega second sector and building an unassailable gap. Team Miami came back in the second race to win it in dominant fashion, putting in a competitive first lap that was the fastest all day till then.

THE PLACE RACE:

Team Drogba, Aoki Racing Team, Team Brazil, and Sergio Perez E1 Team made their way into the single-place race to fight for the championship points. Sergio Perez E1 Team took the top spot, with Team Drogba in P2. The two Saudi Arabian drivers helped the Aoki Racing Team to finish one above Team Brazil.

THE SUPER FINAL:

The Super Final also takes place in two legs of five laps each, with each driver for each team doing one of the legs. In the five laps, the drivers have to take a Long Lap route once in between Laps two and five inclusive.

Team Miami had been consistent through the two days. Team Brady had made a big move in the races. Team Rafa was faster in raw pace over the rest of the day. Team Blue Rising were like the underdog challengers.

The first leg saw Team Rafa take a dominant victory as they put the gauntlet down with Tom Chiappe. Team Blue Rising faced some issues and didn’t have a great start either and took P4. Miami P2 and Team Brady P3.

The second leg saw things turn around a bit. A super start from Phelim Kavanagh saw Team Blue Rising take the early lead from the outside line by making a sharp cut across all the others. As all 4 Racebirds headed into the U of Turn 2, Team Rafa’s Cris Lazarrage got caught in the wake produced by the TBR Racebird and missed a waypoint, cutting – the – course. This resulted in them having to take an extra long lap in the race. The lead quickly disappeared for Team Blue Rising with some potential issues after they took their compulsory long lap.

Team Brady’s Racebird, in the hands of Sam Coleman, was unstoppable in the front, building a large lead with smooth driving over the waves. This performance earned them the win in that race, as well as the historic overall victory in the E1 Jeddah GP. Team Blue Rising took P3 in leg 2 but finished P4 overall.

Championship Standings after Jeddah:

P1: Team Brady (20pts)
P2: Team Miami (17pts)
P3: Team Rafa (4pts)
P4: Team Blue Rising (10pts)
P5: Sergio Perez E1 Team (8pts)
P6: Team Drogba (5pts)
P7: Aoki Racing Team (3pts)
P8: Team Brazil (1pt)

The championship returns with Round 2, riding in the canals and shores of Venice, before returning to Asia for the finale in Hong Kong.

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