Ever since it was first mooted, the key question about Extreme-E series was “Is it for real?” Even in these rapidly changing times the premise seemed far-fetched: take a fleet of 530bhp all-electric off-roaders to race in some of the world’s most remote spots which have been damaged by human activity, drag along independent scientists to monitor sustainability goals and instead of flying to the location, use a ship converted into an environmental research lab.
If that sounded fantastical a year ago when the series was launched, it now appears to be plausible after a number of high-profile names signed up for the debut season in 2021.
Chief among them is Lewis Hamilton (above), who recently confirmed the formation of his own Extreme E team, X44. It is unclear if Hamilton will drive, but he’ll be involved in selecting drivers– one male, one female.
Hamilton was joined by DTM and World Rallycross champion Mattias Ekström, who will race for the ABT Extreme E team, which in turn has partnered with Cupra –the first manufacturer to enter the championship.
“Extreme E really appealed to me because of its environmental focus,” Hamilton said. “Every single one of us has the power to make a difference.”
Both new teams will join a glittering line-up of names from various racing disciplines that includes Adrian Newey (below), Sébastian Ogier, Formula E champion Lucas di Grassi, Le Mans winner André Lotterer and former IndyCar racer Katherine Legge.
The Extreme E championship was created by Alejandro Agag, the founder of the all-electric Formula E series. It will consist of five meetings, with the first season scheduled to start in Senegal in January before visiting Saudi Arabia, Nepal, Greenland and Brazil.
Racing will take place over two laps of a 10-mile course. Events will not be open to the public to minimise the ecological impact but will be broadcast online.
Read about Sebastian Vettel’s environmental views on page 110.