Extreme E flew onto our screens this weekend, the first-ever season of a completely new brand of motorsport. As with any racing series, it can be hard to understand if you’re new to it – this was a unique experience for all, as we all experienced the confusion together.
What Is Extreme E?
An all-electric SUV off-road racing series in five different venues across challenging terrains worldwide, some of the most remote places on earth which have been hand-picked to race at because of the effects climate change has had on them. The thing I love the most about Extreme E? The whole thing is built around highlighting environmental challenges and the impact on the planet’s unique ecosystems. Extreme E is more than just a sport; it’s a worldwide campaign set up to shine a spotlight on the urgent need for action on climate change. The use of electric vehicles is part of the solution, and just like Formula E – it gives teams and manufacturers a chance to test their latest technology. That in itself is a big reason to tune in. If that wasn’t enough, the series brings some much-needed attention to gender equality to the motorsport world. The sport specifies that each team must consist of a male and female, who will share the driver’s role. Nine teams, two drivers per car, including some incredible names and champions from different racing series. Three Formula 1 world champions are also team owners, so definitely one to watch.
Okay, so how does the racing work?
All of the Extreme E action takes place over two days. Each driver completes a lap behind the wheel, with a driver changeover incorporated into the race format, or “the switch”, as it’s being called. Each race contains two laps, which run over a rough estimate of 18km. On a Saturday, all the teams will do two qualifying runs of the course – one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Both the male and female drivers each doing a lap and a changeover. Their times will then be combined, and it will produce an order. This is where it can get a little confusing so bear with us…
On Sunday, there are a few races which will take place. The fastest three teams will go through to the first semi-final race; then, the top two finishers will claim a spot in the final. The middle three teams will go through to the ‘Crazy Race’, with the top finisher also progressing to the final, and the slowest three teams will race in ‘The Shootout’. Those three teams that progressed to the final will race again, and someone will be crowned the XPrix winner.
Points are awarded by places you finish, as you go from first to ninth. Again, just like Formula E, aspects of the sport add some spice to the already exciting racing. A ‘Hyperdrive Boost’ is available to each driver during each lap of the race; this is activated by a button on the steering wheel and will boost the power for a set amount of time – the drivers are most likely to use this on long stretches of road. Gridplay has also been introduced for fans to help their favourite drivers gain a grid advantage; the team that receives the most votes can select its grid position for the final.
Where do the Extreme E races take place?
Well, I’m glad you asked! As I mentioned before, five races are in four different continents worldwide in locations already damaged by climate change. It started in Alula in Saudi Arabia for the Desert XPrix, and then we head too –
- Ocean XPrix: Lac Rose, Senegal
- Arctic XPrix: Kangerlussuaq, Greenland
- Amazon XPrix: Para, Brazil
- Glacier XPrix: Tierra Del Fuego, Argentina
So, we know how they race, but what do they race in?
Every team uses the same car, which is called the Odyssey 21, and of course – It’s electric. The vehicle is manufactured by Spark Racing Technology, although there are parts of Formula 1 DNA within the car, with McLaren providing the drivetrain and Williams with the electric battery. Doesn’t it just remind you of one of those remote control cars you played with as a kid? Except, this one weighs 1,650kg, boasts 540hp, and goes from 0-60 in 4.5 seconds… impressive, huh?
I am sold! Where can I watch it?
Qualifying and Semi-finals will be aired on Sky Sports Action, Sky Sports Mix, BBC iPlayer, and on the XE Website. The Finals are being shown on ITV, BT Sport 1, Sky Sports Action, Sky Sports Mix, BBC iPlayer, and BBC Red Button – plenty of choices!
Desert XPrix Catch Up:
If you didn’t manage to catch the start of the Extreme E racing series or just weren’t sure whether it was your thing – don’t worry; here are some highlights from the weekend.
First qualifying saw teams have their first go against each other. There were some reliability issues
with Catie Munnings driving the Andretti, who got a puncture halfway around the track. She showed
amazing skill to get the car across the line, with the commentators calling it a ‘Hero Drive’.
Veloce didn’t have a good weekend, as Stephane Sarrazin rolled the car after hitting a desert plant
on the track and subsequently ending any chance to get any more racing for the remainder of the
weekend. Similarly, Claudia Hurtgen for ABT Racing crashed the car on her qualifying run where the car
rolled multiple times, a terrifying crash which was a reminder Extreme E isn’t for the faint-hearted. Both drivers were uninjured, but a disappointing weekend for them overall, with minimal running.
On the final race of the weekend, it was Nico Rosberg’s team who prevailed, with a fantastic drive
from reigning world champion Johan Kristoffersson and Australian rally champion Molly Taylor.
Kristoffersson was initially behind after the start but chased down Hansen and overtook the Andretti car
at turn 2. Pulling over a 30 second lead for the remainder of the lap before the changeover for
Taylor, they consolidated their lead and led them to victory. Strong performance from both drivers
and 1-0 to Nico Rosberg in the reunited battle with Lewis Hamilton as team owners.