What is Extreme E? Guide, preview and updates

Extreme E

Extreme E is the latest green racing series – read our guide to find out what it is, who's in it, where it is, when it is and how you can watch it

|Photographer: Jordi Rierola|Event: Preseason Testing|Circuit: MotorLand Aragon|Location: Alcaniz|Series: Extreme E|Country: Spain|Season: 2020|Keyword: 2020|Team: Veloce Racing|Car: Spark ODYSSEY 21|Driver: Jamie Chadwick|Driver: Stephane Sarrazin|

Veloce's Jamie Chadwick admits she doesn't know what she's let herself in for

Extreme E / Jordi Rierola

Extreme E is the latest form of ‘green’ motorsport, going off-road and around the world in a bid to save the planet. Read our guide below to find out what it is, who’s in it, where they’re racing on, when it’s happening and where you can watch it.


What is Extreme E?

Who are the Extreme E drivers?

What teams are in Extreme E?

Who makes Extreme E cars?

When is Extreme E and where will it race?

What does an Extreme E race look like? Race format

What is Extreme E Grid Play?

How can I watch Extreme E?

How will Extreme E help the environment?

What is Extreme E’s RMS St Helena ship?


What is Extreme-E?

Extreme-E is an all-electric off-road series, racing at locations most affected by climate change so as to promote environmental repair and protection. The problems it wishes to highlight include global warming, the retreat of glaciers, deforestation, the destruction of wildlife and its natural habitat.

The championship has been masterminded by Formula E co-founder Alejandro Agag along with Indy 500 winner Gil De Ferran and also has the backing of the FIA.

On the basis of its environmental mission, Extreme E has managed to attract big names, both in drivers and teams.

Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg, Jenson Button all own squads in the series, with the latter racing alongside other top-level drivers.

Extreme E is taking a bold stance on promoting gender equality, with each team required to field one male and female driver.

All teams will race the same purpose-built vehicle, transported around the world in a repurposed ship, which will also serve as a floating laboratory.


Who are the Extreme E drivers?

In a pioneering move, Extreme E will promote gender equality by becoming the first-ever racing series to make it mandatory for each team to field one man and one woman.

A number of motorsport legends have agreed to drive in Extreme-E. Jenson Button, Carlos Sainz Sr and Sébastien Loeb are the headline acts, but the whole grid boasts a strong racing pedigree.

Racing polymath Stephane Sarrazin, a veteran of F1, WEC and WRC experience, will race for Veloce alongside W Series champion Jamie Chadwick, whilst Mattias Ekström, Timmy Hansen and Johan Kristofferson will bring in considerable WRX experience.

Other notable entrants include regular Dakar competitors Laia Sanz and Cristina Gutiérrez as well as GT veteran Claudia Hurtgen. We’ve listed them in full in the section below.


What teams are in Extreme E?

Some of the most significant names in motor-racing have entered as team owners. It doesn’t get much bigger than Lewis Hamilton, and his X44 team will renew old rivalries with Nico Rosberg’s Rosberg X Racing, in addition to Jenson Button and Carlos Sainz SR also entering teams.

Legendary US outfits Ganassi and Andretti will both field entries, whilst Veloce will become the first esports team to cross over into the real world with their own squad.

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Abt Cupra

Renowned racing squad Abt, winner of five DTM titles (two with Ekström) joins forces with Cupra, SEAT’s sport brand, to form their own Extreme E team.

Abt will run with the number 125, to celebrate their 125th birthday this year.


Claudia Hurtgen 1997 Daytona 24 Hours class winner, German GT champion
Mattias Ekström two-time DTM champion, 2016 World Rallycross champion



WRC legend Carlos Sainz SR has linked up with Acciona, the first all-electric car company to complete the Dakar Rally, to form their own Extreme E team.

Also driving will be accomplished off-road bike rider Laia Sanz.


Carlos Sainz two-time WRC champion, three-time Dakar winner
Laia Sanz 13-time Trial World Champion, 5-time Enduro World Champion


Andretti United Extreme E

Legendary US team Andretti Autosport sport go into partnership with Zak Brown’s United Autosports to form their own Extreme E squad.

2019 WRX Champion Timmy Hansen is partnered by up-and-coming British rally driver Catie Munnings, who made her WRC debut in 2020.


Timmy Hansen 2019 WRX champion
Catie Munnings 2016 European Rally Championship Ladies’ Trophy champion


Hispano Suiza Xite Energy Team

The Hispano Suiza name returns to motorsport a century after its first race. The historic automotive-engineering group is now looking to light up electric racing, employing British WRX driver Oliver Bennet and rally driver Christine Giampaoli Zonca.


Oliver Bennet
Christine Giampaoli Zonca 2017 Spanish Gravel Championship champion (women’s category)



2009 F1 champion Jenson Button has been bitten by the EE bug and joined fellow champs Rosberg and Hamilton in forming his own team. JBXE will also work with Extreme E to promote the issues the series hope to promote.


Jenson Button 2009 F1 World Champion, 2019 Super GT Champion
Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky Scandinavian Touring Car Championship race winner


Rosberg X Racing

2016 F1 champion Nico Rosberg has been big on the environment and green energy since he left the World Championship, and now takes this interest further by starting his own F1 team.

The outfit is an evolution of his father Keke’s Team Rosberg squad, founded in 1994.

Rosberg has gone for one of the best by hiring 3-times WRX champion Johan Kristoffersson to drive for him. The Swede will be partnered by Australian Rally champion Molly Taylor.


Johan Kristoffersson 3-times WRX champion
Molly Taylor 2016 Australian Rally Championship champion


Chip Ganassi Racing

Legendary American racing institution Chip Ganassi has also dived into the Extreme E pool. Fresh from winning a 13th IndyCar title with Scott Dixon, the team, which also races in NASCAR and IMSA, will field six-time Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series Kyle LeDuc and X Games medal winner Sara Price, who currently works as a stunt driver.


Kyle LeDuc six-time Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series champion
Sara Price 2012 X Games medal winner, 19-time national dirt bike champion


Veloce Racing

Veloce Racing makes history as the first esports team to cross over into the real world. Adrian Newey has joined as ‘Lead Visionary’ (whatever that is), with Jean-Eric Vergne as one of its other masterminds.

W Series champion Jamie Chadwick is the female driver hired, whilst her team-mate will be none other than former F1, WRC and Le Mans driver Stephane Sarrazin.


Jamie Chadwick W Series champion
Stephane Sarrazin former F1, WRC and Le Mans driver



The most successful F1 driver of all time, Lewis Hamilton, enters the world of team ownership with his X44 squad, which will be run by Prodrive.

“Extreme E really appealed to me because of its environmental focus. Every single one of us has the power to make a difference, and it means so much to me that I can use my love of racing, together with my love for our planet, to have a positive impact,” he said.

Who has the most successful on the road hired? The most successful off it, of course – Sébastien Loeb.

The eight-time WRC champion joins Hamilton’s team and will be partnered by experienced Dakar driver Cristina Gutiérrez.


Sébastien Loeb nine-times WRC champion
Cristina Gutiérrez four-times Dakar finisher


Who makes Extreme E cars?

Odyssey 21 E-SUV

The Odyssey 21 E-SUV is mandatory for all teams

Extreme E

French firm Spark has manufactured the bespoke Odyssey 21 E-SUV. It’s mandatory for all Extreme E teams to use this car. In future seasons participants will be permitted to develop their own powertrain technology, similar to Formula E.

Nicknamed ‘The Beast’, the E-SUV has steel alloy tubular frame, whilst Williams Advanced Engineering made the battery. Combined with the mid-mounted motor, this will have an output of 400kw – approximately 550bhp, enabling the 1650kg to go from 0-62mph in 4.5sec. The SUV’s torque means it can do this on gradients of up to 130%.

From the archive

The car is 2.3 wide, 4.4m long and will be stopped by 6-piston Alicon caliper brakes.

The front bumper and grille can be modified to suit the aesthetics of car manufacturers involved, should they so wish.

The car is designed to run in all conditions from 42C to -20C, and run over rock, gravel, sand, snow and tarmac – and anything else it gets thrown at it.

Continental has designed bespoke tyres for the series, which be fitted on all cars.

The Odyssey 21 has been tested by, amongst others, Valteri Bottas, Ken Block and Katherine Legge.


When is Extreme E? Where will Extreme E race? Full Extreme E calendar

The first Extreme E race will be on the 3 April, at Wadi Rum in Saudi Arabia, before heading on to four other locations around the world. The circuits will revealed the day before each event.

Date Race Location Country
3/4 April 2021 Desert X-Prix Wadi Rum, Al’Ula Saudi Arabia
29/30 May 2021 Ocean X-Prix Lac Rose, Dakar Senegal
28/29 August 2021 Artic X-Prix Kangerlussag Greenland
23/24 October 2021 Amazon X-Prix Santarem, Para Brazil
11/12 December 2021 Glacier X-Prix Tierra del Fuego Argentina


What does an Extreme E race look like? Race format

In contrast to Formula E, which requires drivers to lift and coast to save energy, Extreme E races will be flat-out sprints, known as X-Prix.

At each event teams will take part in a series of qualifying heats on the Saturday, progressing to a semi-final and a final on the Sunday.

Each heat will last two laps, with a mid-race pitstop for driver change so teams can swap from female driver to male driver.

Each race will be approximately ten miles in length, last for ten minutes and feature four teams, and will begin the first qualifying heat from a position determined in a lottery.

Points will be awarded in heats as follows: 1st = 3 points, 2nd = 2 points, 3rd = 1 point. The heat winner will go on to the next round. Saturday points decide starting positions on Sunday, as well as which teams go into which semi-final.

The semi-finals will not operate in a conventional manner. In a nutshell, three cars will progress from one semi-final to the final; the other semi-final will be dubbed a ‘Crazy Race’, with only the winner progressing.

To make it into the ‘normal’ semi-final, you must be one of the four top points-scorers on the Saturday. The remaining five teams go into the ‘Crazy Race’.

At the end of the event, each of the 10 teams will be awarded points on a scale shown below. The first four places are decided by the finishing order in the finale, with the remaining ones dependant on performances in the semi-finals.

1st = 25 points
2nd = 15 points
3rd = 10 points
4th = 7 points
5th = 6 points
6th = 5 points
7th = 4 points
8th = 3 points
9th = 2 points
10th = 1 point

On-track position, as opposed to times set, will determine the winner.

Five races are planned for this year.


*Format change

Giant dust clouds sent up by cars at the Suadia Arabian Al-‘Ula location for the ‘Desert X-Prix’ has forced a format change for Extreme E before its inaugural round.

The clouds – created by the Odyssey 21 SUV in practice runs – will massively hamper visibility, therefore forcing organisers to cancel the Saturday qualifying heat races on safety grounds. The grids for the semi-finals and finals also been capped at three cars each for the same reason.

Instead of heat races, entrants will take part in single-car time trials on the Saturday. Every driver paring will be given two runs, one in the morning and one in the afternoon.

Their average lap time will then dictate the grid for the semi-finals.

A lottery draw will decide the starting order for the qualification time-trials.


What is Extreme E Grid Play?

Extreme E’s Grid Play is a system by which fans can vote for their favourite driver to determine their starting position in the final.

Fans are allowed two votes per day, and can vote right up to the end of the semi-final. With the altered format, this likely means voting will carry on to the end of the qualifying time trials.

The votes each driver recieved are added up to give thei team an overall score.

The team with the most votes can handpick its starting position, then the team with second-most decides its grid spot etc.

Teams that don’t get into the final can ‘gift’ their votes to another chosen team. The team with the least votes chooses who to give its to first, meaning the losing team with the most votes will have most influence in deciding grid position when it gifts its share.

You can cast your vote in Grid Play here.


How can I watch Extreme E?

Read our Extreme E TV guide here.

Each race will be broadcast live on Sky Sports, in addition to 20 magazine-style programmes. Presented by Layla Anna-Lee, these behind-the-scenes shows will centre around equality, electrification and environmental sustainability.

The live coverage will also go terrestrial after ITV announced they would also broadcast races live, the magazine programme too as well as a highlights package. Viewers can also catch up on Extreme E via the ITV Hub. The ITV deal covers the first three season of the burgeoning series.

The BBC has also secured a deal to cover Extreme E remotely. Jennie Gow and Andrew Coley will commentate from a location in London, presenting a highlights show.


How will Extreme E help the environment?

The Extreme E ship St Helena will house an onboard laboratory so research can be carried out at each location to investigate how to better preserve the environment.

“We will race at ‘destroyed locations,” said Agag. “But we will then try help fix those locations, or give a contribution to the local community. We’re going to work with local communities and leave a legacy behind.”

‘Legacy’ projects will be launched at each location. Part of this will include a Scientific Committee which will conduct beach cleans, mangrove planting, research tailored to that environment and education programmes to help local residents cut carbon emissions.

“It’s integral that we have legacy projects in place,” says Head of Legacy Programme Louisa Tholstrup, “That will be both social and environmental. We want to involve as many of the local community as possible, so that’s schools or local organisations.

“We’re looking at long-term renewable energy solutions – solar power; win power and on the environmental side, NGOs that are working to counteract the effects of climate change to the environment.”

Through its existential coverage and profile, Extreme E hopes to highlight environmental issues around the world so as to raise awareness and initiate change for the better.


What is Extreme E’s RMS St Helena ship?

St. Helena Extreme E

The ‘floating racing station’ St. Helena

Extreme E

Described by EE founder Agag as “a moving racing station”, RMS St Helena is a refurbished Royal Mail cargo vessel which will transport all the cars, freight and infrastructure to the nearest port, thereby minimising the emissions profile.

Also housed on the ship will be a laboratory to facilitate scientific research at each environmentally endangered location the championship races at.

One of the last two ships to carry the ‘RMS’ moniker, St Helena was once a ‘lifeline’ supply ship between Cape Town and the isolated British Overseas Territory of Saint Helena (a volcanic tropical Island) from 1990 to 2016.

To lower its emission, the ship’s refurbished engines and generators use low sulphur marine diesel. St Helena can also run on just one engine if necessary to further reduce emissions.

Air-into-water steam technologies, designed to lower water consumption and water-heating requirements, are also due to be installed.