The world is evolving on a daily basis as a result of climate change with more and more emphasis based on electric cars and the general global population reducing their carbon footprint. Car manufacturers like Audi, BMW, Telsa, Nissan, Toyota and others are all beginning to evolve their range of vehicles to plug-in hybrids, including Mini.
Motor racing has a long history with the oil industry, In Formula One for example, Ferrari who has been in the sport since its inception in 1950 have been supported by Shell while the UK-based Red Bull Racing team are fuelled by Exxon Mobil.
While many of the teams in Formula One are now using a bio-fuel of some sort, the car industry recognized that electric power was the way forward. Former Spanish politician, Alejandro Agag had a vision of an all-electric racing series and in 2014 he launched the ABB FIA Formula E world championship which has become a huge success around the world and has attracted the likes of Nissan, BMW, Audi, and Jaguar to the series. The series is unique in that all of the events are held on street circuits.
Formula E was not the only renewable energy racing series that Agag had in mind, the Spaniard has also developed a new all-electric off-road racing series which launches in Saudi Arabia this weekend called Extreme E. The SUV-like off-road vehicles are similar to off-road buggies and the sport has attracted many big names teams such as Chip Ganassi Racing and Andretti Autosport from the world of U.S-based IndyCar Series racing while the likes of former Formula One world champions, Nico Rosberg and Jenson Button have also set up teams in the sport, (Jenson Button is racing in the series).
Lewis Hamilton, who is the defending Formula One world champion also has a team in the sport. Extreme E is unique in many ways, particularly as it is the first form of motor racing where as part of the regulations, men and women race together on the same teams so each outfit have a male and female driver which has helped to build the profile of the sport in relation to diversity and the all of the drivers be they male or female are competing in the series on merit and were chosen purely based on their talent.
Prior to him heading to Saudi Arabia, for this weekend’s inaugural event, I caught up with Extreme E founder and CEO, Alejandro Agag.
The world is facing unprecedented times as a result of the challenging relating to COVID-19, how has this affected the preparations for the inaugural season of Extreme E?
“We didn’t know there was going to be Covid obviously when we started Extreme E but going to the Arctic and the Amazon, we don’t expect people to show up anyway. That side of it is unaffected.
“It has made everything harder due to the travel restrictions of course; we haven’t been able to complete as many site visits as we would have liked, but all in all the challenges haven’t stopped us. In 2020, we were in the preparation phase in terms of signing teams and partners and we were lucky that we could really carry on during COVID.Alejandro Agag
“Hopefully the world is on a road to recovery from COVID this year, which is great news indeed. It would have been an easy decision to delay the series given the circumstances but this was never an option in our eyes. Safety standards will be high and we need to make sure everyone is safe, but there is no cure for the climate crisis unfortunately and we can’t wait around, we need to act, now.”
Given the talented field of drivers who will be involved in the series, what are the expectations for the opening event of the season?
“Our operations and events team have faced additional challenges to what was already a tough event to create but they have responded incredibly well and overcome all obstacles. Everyone has been working so hard on this project and hopefully we will see that all pay off very soon. To pull of a new series under these circumstances is totally unprecedented.”
The Odyssey 21’s arrived in Saudi Arabia on Sunday, will teams be able to test in the build-up to the event?
“There will be a shakedown opportunity for teams on Friday 2 April.”
How excited have you been with the reaction to Extreme E given the high-profile names who are involved in the series?
“Already we feel like there is a massive amount of excitement from motorsport fans about Extreme E, you just have to look at our social media.
“Having big names like Lewis Hamilton and Sebastien Loeb by our side with Extreme E is huge, it has bought a massive spotlight to the championship, which is exactly our goal.
“In the case of Lewis, he is an incredible driver and loves motorsport, but also has a true care for our environment as well as equality and diversity. The commitment from him and others such as Jenson Button, Nico Rosberg, Carlos Sainz, also demonstrates how seriously Extreme E is being taken by the motorsport community.”Alejandro Agag
For more information about Extreme E, visit – http://extremee.com