|Category||Electric off-road racing|
|Constructors||Spark Racing Technology|
|Tyre suppliers||Continental Tyres|
|Teams' champion||Rosberg X Racing|
Extreme E is an FIA-sanctioned international off-road racing series that uses spec silhouette electric SUVs to race in remote parts of the world, such as the Saudi Arabian desert or the Arctic. All racing locations are chosen to raise awareness for some aspects of climate change and Extreme E maintains a "Legacy Programme" which intends to provide social and environmental support for those locations. The series also promotes gender equality in motorsport by mandating that all teams consist of a female and a male driver who share equal driving duties. The first season began with the Desert X-Prix in Saudi Arabia in April 2021.
Extreme E began in 2018 as a project led by Formula E founder Alejandro Agag and former driver Gil de Ferran. The series was presented to the public in January 2019 with an event in London. The announcement took place on board of the ship St Helena which was to serve as "floating paddock" of the series, and also introduced Continental as tyre supplier and Brazilian company CBMM as niobium supplier for the vehicle production. Ali Russell was named Chief Marketing Officer, while Red Bull sports executives Kester Wilkinson and Nina Dreier signed on as event and marketing managers.
The first team to commit to the series, Venturi Racing, was announced in May 2019 (although they withdrew again before the first season). A couple of months later, German team Abt Sportsline was the second team to join the series.
In July 2019 a first prototype of the series vehicle, the Odyssey 21, was showcased at the Goodwood Festival of Speed and in December 2019 the provisional calendar for the first season in 2021 has been revealed, featuring races in Senegal, Saudi Arabia, Nepal, Greenland and Brazil.
In 2020 the series started to attract attention by having Ken Block race the Extreme E car at the last stage of the Dakar Rally in January and in September Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton announced the creation of his own Extreme E team, called X44. Former F1 champion Nico Rosberg also entered his own team into the competition, leading the championship ahead of long time rival Lewis Hamilton. A six-day drivers test was held near the Châteaux de Lastours in southern France in late September and early October, featuring among confirmed series drivers some well-known racing drivers like Valtteri Bottas, Sébastien Loeb and Jean-Éric Vergne.
In November 2020, the vehicles were delivered to the teams, who could then apply their liveries and acquaint themselves with the car and its operations. The teams were limited to 100km of private testing. A joint test with eight teams and a race simulation was held at MotorLand Aragón in December.
In January 2021, less than three months before the first race, a third former Formula One world champion, Jenson Button, announced his participation in Extreme E. Besides fielding his own team, he also takes part as a driver in selected rounds.
The first season began with the Desert X-Prix in Saudi Arabia in April 2021 and ended in December in the United Kingdom. Nine teams were competing over five rounds. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic the calendar had to be modified during the season with two European rounds replacing the two planned events in South America. Rosberg X Racing with drivers Molly Taylor and Johan Kristoffersson emerged as the first Extreme E champions.
Teams must consist of one female and one male driver, who share equal driving duties. In each session, the team must complete two laps of the course (three for Jurassic X-Prix due to shorter distance), with both team member driving one lap (or two-and-one for Jurassic X-Prix). The driver switch takes place in a designated "switch zone", where a speed limit and a minimal switch time are enforced for safety reasons.
The format of the Extreme E race weekend evolved over the course of the first season. Under the current format, racing starts on Saturday with two rounds of qualifying time trials. Then, on Sunday, a series of actual races with multiple cars take place to determine the event winner. Each qualifying round consists of one lap each by both drivers and championship points are awarded for the finishing position over the combined results from both rounds, based on intermediate points (9 for the round winner down to 1 point for the last-placed team). The qualifying results also determine to which second round race each teams advances: first, fifth and sixth place progress to semi-final 1, with second, third and fourth advancing to semi-final 2 and teams finishing in seventh, eighth and ninth go to the "Crazy Race". The best two teams from each semi-final as well as the winner of the Crazy Race qualify for the five-car final.
Additionally, a "super sector" is defined, where five extra points are awarded to the fastest team through that sector over the weekend. During a session, one Hyper Drive can be used per lap which provides extra power for four seconds.
The Spark Odyssey 21 electric SUV was unveiled as the series' competition vehicle at Goodwood Festival of Speed on 5 July 2019. The vehicle is manufactured by Spark Racing Technology, the constructors of the Formula E cars, with a battery produced by Williams Advanced Engineering. The car is fitted with a niobium-reinforced steel alloy tubular frame, as well as crash structure and roll cage. It weighs 1,650 kg (3,640 lb), and is capable of 0 to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds, with 400 kW (540 hp) of power.
The Odyssey 21 was showcased in action in 2020 Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia in January 2020. Guerlain Chicherit drove the vehicle during shakedown one day before the race start and Ken Block competed with it on the final stage between Haradh and Al-Qiddiya, finishing with the third fastest time in the car category.
Teams and drivers
The Extreme E regulations require each team to consist of a female and a male driver who share equal driving duties (with a driver swap in the middle of each race).
In September 2019, Extreme E released a list of drivers who had registered official interest in driving in the series. Teams could select drivers from this list, but they could also sign any other driver. In November, a second group of inductees joined the programme. The first actual driver signing, Sara Price with Chip Ganassi Racing, was announced in June 2020.
The inaugural season, which began in April 2021, features 18 drivers in nine teams. While 18 drivers participate in each race, reserve drivers can substitute any driver before the beginning of each subsequent rounds.
Race locations and legacy programme
Extreme E races in locations already damaged by climate change in order to bring awareness to the problems posed by climate change and have consulted ecological experts to keep the impact of their presence to a minimum. The series maintains a so called "legacy programme" which intends to provide support for social and environmental challenges at the racing locations.
|Environment||Host Nation||Location||Season||Legacy Programme|
|Arctic||Greenland||Kangerlussuaq, Russell Glacier||2021||UNICEF youth climate education and children's rights awareness programme, Black ice collection|
|Desert||Saudi Arabia||Sharaan, Al-'Ula||2021||Red Sea turtle conservation|
|Island||Italy||Capo Teulada, Sardinia||2021||Blue and green carbon stores|
|Jurassic Coast||Great Britain||Bovington Camp, Dorset||2021||Beaver Reintroduction, in partnership with The National Trust|
|Ocean||Senegal||Lac Rose||2021||Mangrove restoration|
The RMS St Helena, a former Royal Mail Ship, serves as a "floating paddock" and headquarters for the series. It is used to carry all equipment, including the cars, to the race locations (or nearest port) in order to reduce carbon emissions compared to air freight. The ship's environmental footprint has been reduced by converting the propulsion units and the generators to run on ultra-low-sulfur diesel. The St Helena also serves as a research vessel, carrying scientists and potentially holding conferences at the race locations.
Extreme E uses hydrogen fuel cell technology supplied by AFC Energy. Hydrogen fuel is generated from water and solar energy and is then used to charge the vehicles, allowing for a sustainable off-the-grid power generation.
Broadcasts and documentary series
Aurora Media Worldwide and North One Television were selected as host broadcasters, producing live race coverage and a supporting documentary series, combining sport and scientific stories. Academy Award-winning filmmaker Fisher Stevens was hired as the series artistic director to produce the broadcasts. Gil de Ferran said that the "viewers can expect a completely new way of consuming sport, with each episode telling not just the story of a race, but the wider race of awareness and the need to protect these remote and challenging environments being explored by Extreme E."
Before the first season in 2021, a three-part TV series has been produced to document the process of creating a brand-new racing series. The first episode premiered in June 2020 on Channel 4 in the UK, followed a few days later on Eurosport.
The live broadcast is presented by Andrew Coley and Jennie Gow from a studio in London, and Layla Anna-Lee is the on-site reporter and also presents a 20-episode magazine show called "Electric Odyssey".
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