You’ve probably heard and seen a few things about Extreme E haven’t you? Hamilton has a team aptly named X44 and his long-time racing nemesis, Nico Rosberg, also has a team - so they’re competing once again. But these aren’t the only serious names attached to Extreme E – Rally legends Carlos Sainz and Sebastien Loeb will be driving too, and just recently announced, Jenson Button is in on the action as both a team owner and driver. The who’s who of racing is signing up, and we’re certain it will continue. So exactly what is Extreme E then and why is it becoming a thing?
It’s the brainchild of former Formula E CEO and Founder, Alejandro Agag, who dreamt up the concept over a breakfast conversation with his racing ace friend Gil de Ferran. They conjured up the idea of an all-electric racing series that was captivating in itself, yet was the backdrop to the narrative on climate change, something that would represent and showcase the crisis in a way never done before.
It is why the 2021 Extreme E racing series is set to take place over 5 locations, each of which is a particularly vulnerable part of the world with regards to climate change: Round 1 in the deserts of Saudi Arabia; Round 2 in Lac Rose Senegal; Round 3 in the Arctic Tundra of Greenland; Round 4 in the rainforests of Brazil and the final round 5 in the Glacial climate of Argentina.
As the name suggests, the racing is indeed extreme. Think of the Dakar Rally only this time with more varied terrain across 5 continents. It’s a one-make series at the moment with each team racing an all-electric ODYSSEY-21 machine. It weighs 1,650 kg and will run to 100km/h in 4,5-seconds; onto a top end of 200km/h from a 400kW dual electric combo. The battery tech has been produced by Williams Advanced Engineering and in a world-first for racing, the charge process will be done by a hydrogen fuel cell system. The tech will allow Extreme E to charge the entire race fleet using zero emission energy, with the only by-product being water. This makes the series as sustainable as it gets really, so kudos to AFC Energy who developed the tech.
How will the Race weekend work?
First off, a female-male team shares pilot duties in each car so we’re excited to see some big names in women racing coming to the fore.
There are 2 days of racing over Saturday and Sunday with one full battery charge per team, per day. Each team races in a round-robin type set up with two Qualifying races on Saturday, followed by two Semi-Finals and then a Finale on Sunday with team members swopping seats throughout. The order of driver selection is entirely at the teams’ discretion, which will ensure a mixed field throughout the race weekend. Gender equality for the win then.
So just who is driving?
10 teams are confirmed for the 2021 season and they are as follows in no particular order:
- Christine Giampaoli and Oliver Bennett (Hispano Suiza Xite Energy Team)
- Jenson Button (co-driver TBC) (JBXE)
- Molly Taylor and Johan Kristofferson (Rosberg Xtreme Racing)
- Jamie Chadwick and Stéphane Sarrazin (Veloce Racing)
- Christina Gutierrez and Sébastien Loeb (X44)
- Sara Price and Kyle Leduc (Chip Ganassi Racing)
- Catie Munnings and Timmy Hansen (Andretti United Extreme E)
- Laia Sainz and Carlos Sainz (Acciona | Sainz XE Team)
- Claudia Hurtgen and Mattias Ekstrom (ABT Cupra XE)
- TBC (Team Techeetah)
What we have here is a mix of multi-disciplinary racing drivers with diverse backgrounds, ages and racing experience. Some have conquered championships on 2 wheels as well as 4; some have only ever driven in the most elite track racing genres where others have conquered the roughest terrains multiple times. What is most exciting is that we get to witness the racing in a series and format that we’ve never seen before by teams driving cars we've never seen before. We can't wait.
The first race takes place in Wadi Rum, Saudi Arabia for the Desert X-Prix on 03 – 04 April 2021.