Extreme E is an off-road racing championship for all-electric SUVs that will hold rounds in locations hurt most by climate change to promote environmental repair and protection.
It was originally devised in 2018 by Formula E co-founder Alejandro Agag and two-time Champ Car champion Gil de Ferran, plus it has the backing of motorsport governing body the FIA.
While the racing will take centre stage, there’s a secondary purpose to Extreme E that’s built around a relatively straightforward premise.
Motorsport attracts a big audience, so it’s hoped that racing with zero-emission cars in close proximity to retreating glaciers and damaged rain forests will draw greater attention to the environment than a conventional documentary.
Although, this perhaps excludes ones narrated by David Attenborough.
The championship mandates each team runs a female and a male driver in a bid to take a lead in gender equality in high-profile motorsport.
How does Extreme E work?
Nine teams are signed up for the inaugural season and all entries will run one of the standardised Odyssey 21 E-SUVs. Unlike Formula E, which requires drivers to lift and coast to preserve energy, the cars will race flat-out in sprint events known as ‘X-Prix’.
Five rounds are planned for this first year and the format of these most closely resembles that used by World Rallycross. Over two days, the teams will compete in a brace of qualifying heats to progress into the semi-finals and a final. On-track position, rather than times, will declare the winner. Each heat will consist of two laps, one driven by the teams’ female driver, the other by the male, thanks to a mid-race pitstop.
Four cars will contest each race, roughly 10 miles in length, and will start the first qualifying heat from a position drawn through a lottery. The heat winner will earn three points (two for second, one for third, nothing for fourth place) to progress to the next round.
The driver pairing that completes the longest jump over the first obstacle with gain a ‘hyperboost’ power upgrade.
Away from the on-track spectacle, Extreme E will launch ‘Legacy’ programmes in each country. The reason so many stellar names have been attracted to enter teams and drive in the championship is because of the environmental work that will be carried out at each round.
A crack in-house Scientific Committee will lead beach cleans, the planting of mangroves, tailored research and seek to educate locals in a bid to cut carbon emissions.
Abt Extreme E 2021
Who’s driving in Extreme E?
Cupra became the first automotive manufacturer to establish a formal alliance with an Extreme E squad as it partners long-time Volkswagen Group affiliate and race team Abt.
Claudia Hurtgen – 1997 Daytona 24 Hours class winner and German GT champion
Mattias Ekstrom – two-time DTM champion and 2016 World Rallycross champion
Acciona/Sainz Extreme E 2021
In 2017, Spanish firm Acciona backed the first all-electric car to complete the Dakar Rally and has created its Extreme E attack in conjunction with World Rally legend Carlos Sainz Sr.
Laia Sanz – 10-time Dakar Rally motorbike finalist
Carlos Sainz Sr – two-time World Rally champion
Andretti Extreme E line-up 2021
McLaren Racing boss Zak Brown has partnered his United Autosports squad, best known for endurance racing, with long-standing IndyCar and Formula E race team Andretti Autosport.
Catie Munnings – Red Bull-backed Junior World Rally driver
Timmy Hansen – 2019 World Rallycross champion
Chip Ganassi Racing Extreme E 2021
Chip Ganassi Racing
The Extreme E car of American motorsport leviathan Chip Ganassi will resemble the forthcoming all-electric Hummer thanks to a collaboration with General Motors.
Sara Price – Stadium Super Truck racer and X Games competitor
Kyle Leduc – 101 wins and six class titles in the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series
Hispano Suiza Extreme E line-up 2021
A late entry to replace the HWA team, Spanish-Swiss concern Hispano Suiza traces its roots back to engineering involvement in aeroplane engine design prior to the Second World War.
Christine Giampaoli Zonca – one-time World Rally Championship entrant
Oliver Bennett – Finished third in the 2017 British Rallycross standings
Button Extreme E 2021
Announced just 10 weeks ahead of the first race, Formula 1 world champion Jenson Button has created his own JBXE team, which marks another major coup for the championship.
Jenson Button – 2009 Formula 1 world champion and 2018 Super GT champion
Mikaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky – Extreme E test driver and Scandinavian touring car race winner
Rosberg Extreme E line-up 2021
Rosberg X Racing
Further Formula 1 title-winning clout is provided by former Mercedes grand prix driver Nico Rosberg entering the series with his own RXR concern, which is an extension of his father Keke’s DTM operation.
Molly Price – 2016 Australian national rally champion
Johan Kristoffersson – three-time World Rallycross champion
Veloce Extreme line-up 2021
Double Formula E champion Jean-Eric Vergne and Formula 1 design guru Adrian Newey are part of the set-up that has taken the Veloce Esports operation into real-world motorsport.
Jamie Chadwick – inaugural W Series champion
Stephane Sarrazin – sportscar veteran and part-time World Rally driver
X44 Extreme E line-up
Seven-time Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton has made his first step into team ownership with the creation of X44, which will advance opportunities for BAME engineers.
Cristina Gutierrez – runner-up in the All-Terrain Spanish Rally Championship
Sebastien Loeb – nine-time World Rally champion
What is the Extreme E car?
All teams will run a standardised Odyssey 21 E-SUV, although the powertrain technology will be opened up to development in later years. The niobium-reinforced steel alloy tubular frame has been built by French firm Spark Racing Technology, which has been continually responsible for the construction of the Formula E cars.
Despite an initial deal with McLaren Applied, it has since been announced that Williams Advanced Engineering will produce the battery for the Extreme E car. This and the mid-mounted motor will provide a power output of 400kw – equivalent to 550bhp – to propel the 1650kg machine from 0 to 62mph in 4.5 seconds.
The 4.4-metre long and 2.3-metre-wide Odyssey will be stopped by six-piston Alcon brakes. Meanwhile, Continental is the sole tyre supplier courtesy of its chunky Cross Contact compound.
Various elements of the car’s design, namely the front bumper and grille, can be modified to resemble road cars should a team partner with an automotive manufacturer.
The cars will be shipped to each event aboard the RMS St Helena. The former cargo vessel has undergone an 18-month, multi-million-pound refit to reduce its emissions.
Extreme E Calendar 2021
1. Desert X-Prix – 3/4 April 2021 – Wadi Rum, AlUla, Saudi Arabia
2. Ocean X-Prix – 29/30 May 2021 – Lac Rose, Dakar, Senegal
3. Artic X-Prix – 28/29 August 2021 – Kangerlussag, Greenland
4. Amazon X-Prix – 23/24 October 2021 – Santarem, Para, Brazil
5. Glacier X-Prix – 11/12 December 2021 – Tierra del Fuego, Argentina
How can I watch Extreme E?
Extreme E has secured a one-year deal for each race to be broadcast live on Sky Sports. This package will also include the creation of 20 magazine-style shows. Half-an-hour in length, each will focus on ‘behind-the-scenes’ elements such as equality, electrification and environmental sustainability. These will be presented by Layla Anna-Lee.
The races will also be streamed lived on the BBC, with renowned motorsport anchors Jennie Gow and Andrew Coley providing commentary from a studio in London.