McLaren will bring its papaya orange livery to the Extreme E electric SUV series next year, joining teams run by the likes of Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg, Jenson Button and Carlos Sainz.
Zak Brown (inset, left, with Extreme E founder Alejandro Agag), McLaren Racing’s CEO, says that the decision would help “accelerate” the Formula 1 team’s efforts and boost its “sustainability agenda”.
The timing of the announcement, in early June, was driven by fear of missing the boat – literally – because the equipment and cars are shipped around the world and capacity is restricted to 12 teams, with nine slots already filled.
“I believe the franchise will be sold out quickly,” says Brown. “We felt with the success of the series that we didn’t have the luxury of waiting another six months.”
Neither Lando Norris nor Daniel Ricciardo are likely to find themselves churning up sand in the desert or sliding around glaciers (races are held in areas threatened by climate change). McLaren is likely to look to the rally and rallycross world — or rival teams for its male and female driver. “The closer [the drivers] are to their discipline, probably the more competitive they’ll be,” says Brown.
Brown adds that recent IndyCar success, and an injection of finance had emboldened McLaren. A positive reaction could lead to a Formula E entry, and the team is considering a return to Le Mans.