By Shwetha Surendran
BU News Service
“Extreme E is not just a sport,” said Alejandro Agag, CEO of Extreme E. “It’s a sport for purpose.”
Following in the footsteps of Formula E, Extreme E will be fitted with the latest electric off-road technology and will aim to raise environmental awareness at its remote race locations. With a low-emissions philosophy, the RMS St. Helena, a renovated 30-year-old Royal Mail cargo-passenger ship, will serve as the racing series’s traveling paddock. The ship runs on low sulphur fuel, which is the most environmentally-friendly travel option and will also act as a scientific base for pioneering research in the field.
The environmentally-conscious racing series will feature the 1650-kilogram ODYSSEY 21 E-SUV, equipped with innovative battery-electric technology, capable of reaching 0-62 mph in 4.5 seconds. The SUVs will use a revolutionary battery developed by Williams Advanced Engineering that harnesses hydrogen power for energy production. All teams will use a common package of standardized parts with customized exteriors for the first season.
Rekindling their infamous 2016 Formula One rivalry, world champion drivers Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton will serve as Extreme E team owners. Hamilton’s X44 and Rosberg’s Xtreme Racing are two of the nine teams that will compete in the first Extreme E season. American racing royalty, Chip Ganassi Racing, is also in the mix with an all-American driver pairing of Sara Price and Kyle LeDuc.
Racing legends from multiple series are set to make their E-racing debuts, with Red Bull’s Formula One design mastermind, Adrian Newey, leading Veloce Racing’s operations as “Lead Visionary.” Andretti United Extreme E and Team Techeetah are some of the other big names in the series.
The 2021 race calendar, as announced, will feature five X Prix races in spectacular locations around the world, with Round One – the Desert X Prix – starting at AlUla, Saudi Arabia in March.
Over the season, the floating paddock will dock in Senegal, Greenland, Brazil and Argentina to raise awareness about desertification, beach plastic, deforestation and melting glaciers. Gearing every nut and bolt in this racing operation towards sustainability, Extreme E will also have a legacy program partnering with local NGOs in the X Prix locations.
The unique two-day race weekend in each location will have qualifying sessions, two semi-finals, a race and a final. A unique feature added to the format is the Hyperdrive – an extra boost of speed to a team that records the longest jump in the first jump of each race.
In another first for motor sport, each team in the series will also have a two driver line-up – one male and one female. This is an initiative to promote gender equality and level the playing field in a male-dominated sport.
Due to its “no spectators on location” approach, fans are being incorporated through other creative ways such as the Grid Play, a voting system that will award the fan-favorite team with a choice of grid position.
A distinct race format with the latest electric technology, Extreme E is a whole new adventure in the motorsport world. Now with a confirmed 2021 race calendar and nine teams, the final part of the puzzle is the driver line-ups. Keep an eye out for team announcements and car reveals in the months leading up to the inaugural season.