Last updated on April 8th, 2020 at 08:01 pm
Extreme E is a new motorsport that's attempting to infuse Formula E and Dakar Rally into one incredible series of racing events that take place in remote locations around the world. In an attempt to raise awareness of the effects of climate change, the organisation is creating race tracks in areas that have been affected by the rise of global warming.
The race series, which was conceived in 2018, is looking to kick-start its inaugural championship in early 2021. Here's everything you need to know about the upcoming all-electric motorsport.
Extreme E: The vehicle
To live up to the sport's name – the vehicle must be appropriate for all types of terrain; a Formula E racecar wouldn't be able to cope with the harsh environments the sport intends to place it in. As such, a new vehicle was designed: the Odyssey 21, an all-electric SUV.
Built by Spark Racing Technology, the same company that supplies Formula E racecars, the four-wheel-drive (4WD) SUV will have a 400 kW (550hp) motor that's capable of propelling the 1,650kg vehicle from standstill to 62mph in 4.5s – more importantly, the vehicle will be capable of achieving this number at gradients of up to 130%.
Williams Advanced Engineering, a former Formula E supplier, will also be providing the battery packs to these SUVs. At the time of writing, all we know is their capacity – 54 kWh. Driving range has yet to be announced either, but initial prototypes seem to suggest under 30 minutes at full pelt.
Under the SUV's standardised shell, sits a niobium-reinforced steel alloy tubular frame and a roll cage to protect the driver. The bubble-shaped vehicle is reminiscent to those that are on display in the Dakar Rally race series. In Extreme E, the tyres will be developed by founding partner and tyre specialists, Continental.
Extreme E: Race tracks and calendar
As of January 2020, all five tracks have been confirmed and have their provisional 2021 dates for Season 1:
- 22-23-24 January: Lac Rose/Lake Retba (Pink Lake) in Senegal – Ocean
- 4-5-6 March: Sharaan, Al-‘Ula in Saudi Arabia – Desert
- 6-7-8 May: Kali Gandaki valley in Nepal – Glacier
- 27-28-29 August: Russell Glacier (Kangerlussuaq) in Greenland – Arctic
- 29-30-31 October: Amazon Rainforest (Santarém) in Brazil – Rainforest
As you'll see from the above, there will be Arctic, Glacier, Rainforest, Desert and Ocean-based races. The locations have been carefully selected to highlight the impacts of climate change has had on that particular area. In order to preserve the environment, ecological experts have been consulted in order to keep the impact of the races to a minimum.
Extreme E: Race format
The motorsport will use a round-robin format, where two groups of six teams go head-to-head against each other. The top four teams will progress to the knock-out stages, where each driver will have the chance to go to the final.
The race tracks will be around 6-10km (3.7-6.2 miles) long, and the drivers will navigate through a series of virtual gates – 5-6 to be specific.
Where's the race paddock? On a ship. The organisers chose the RMS St. Helena, a ship that was previously used to connect the island of St. Helena to the rest of the world. Now, the ship is being redesigned, where it'll be more eco-friendly and will also have its hull transformed into a huge garage for all the vehicles, engineers and teams. Components won't be flown to set locations as they do in Formula 1. Brilliant.
Here, the teams will use the ship – which will be positioned at each race location – as a base camp during race week. To be even more futuristic, each driver will have a virtual track via a Head's Up Display (HUD) that'll be placed within the car. All the action will then be captured by a drone, which will beam information from the SUV to the team's base on RMS St. Helena. It's a fantastic idea, but will it work? We'll have to wait and see.
Extreme E: Drivers
Race drivers are being drafted from all different types of motorsport, and unlike most, it won't be a male-only dominated sport – it's for everyone. Refreshing.
The list of drivers is constantly expanding and is being called the ‘Drivers' Programme‘; from WRC winners such as Sébastian Ogier, to touring car racer, Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky, Extreme E has a large group of elite racers interested in competing in the opening 2021/22 season.
Alejandro Agag, Founder of Extreme E, said: “This world-class list of drivers, representing the very best male and female talent from multiple disciplines across top-tier motorsport, illustrates Extreme E’s serious sporting credentials. It certainly marks another very important step as we continue the development of our exciting new series.”
We wonder: will drivers have access to extra power via Fanboost or Attack Mode? These two features are currently present in Formula E – they give drivers a means of unlocking additional power from the vehicle's battery pack, which in turn gives them the ability to perform easier overtakes.
Extreme E: How to watch
To watch the races, we'd expect it to be similar to Formula E – free if you live in the UK via the BBC, via Fox Sports if you're in the US, or online for those who live elsewhere; on 28 January, Belarusian Television and Radio Company (BTRC) was confirmed as a broadcast partner – Extreme E will be televised across Belarus on its dedicated sports channel, Belarus 5. Elsewhere, TVNZ was also confirmed, taking the sport to New Zealand.
We'll be sure to update this guide with more information as and when we get it. WhichEV is excited to see what comes of the motorsport; it's an exciting prospect for all of us who love racing.