After a break of only a couple of months, Extreme E makes its return this weekend. Here’s everything you need to know about the Desert X-Prix.
Building on the success of its debut year in 2021, Extreme E returns once again to host a global motorsport with a difference. With the stage set for the opening weekend, EV Powered brings you the definitive guide to the second season of Extreme E.
When and where?
Extreme E Season 2 begins in the deserts of NEOM, a region in the northwest of Saudi Arabia where the Kingdom’s largest global giga-project is taking shape.
The desert of Saudi Arabia was also chosen as the location of Extreme E’s very first race last season, with Rosberg X Racing laying down a marker for the rest of the campaign with an impressive victory.
Each location is specifically chosen to raise awareness of a specific climate issue, which in Saudi Arabia’s case is the impact of desertification. the loss of biological diversity and the importance of resilience because of the impacts of climate change.
How does it work?
This season will feature a slightly new racing format, with five car races for qualifying on Day One. We’ll let Extreme E itself explain the rest of the rules and regs:
Depending on where you finish in your qualifying race, you will get points awarded for Q1 and Q2. This gives an Intermediate Classification that will decide the order for which cars progress through to Semi Final 1, Semi Final 2 and the Crazy Race on Day Two. The top two teams from each Semi Final and the winner of the Crazy Race progress to the Final.
Every round will incorporate two laps over a total distance of approximately 14 kilometres. In a motorsport world-first, teams will field one male and one female driver, promoting gender equality and a level playing field amongst competitors. The teams will determine which driver goes first to best suit their strategy and driver order selections are made confidentially, with competitors kept in the dark as to other teams’ choices until the last possible moment. Contests between males and females will therefore be ensured.
Both drivers will complete one lap behind the wheel of the ODYSSEY 21 electric SUV, with a driver changeover, the ‘Switch’, included after the first lap. A ‘Hyperdrive’ boost will also be available to each driver on each lap of the race. Activated when the driver presses a button on their steering wheel, they will enjoy an increase in power for a fixed amount of time. The timing for this will be a key decision.
Who should you look out for?
Having won the very first season of Extreme E last year, Rosberg X Racing will enter the new campaign as favorites, with Swedish pair Johan Kristoffersson and Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky leading the teams title defence.
New the series this year is McLaren Racing, which will be spearheaded by New Zealander Emma Gilmour and American Tanner Foust. The team will be operated by McLaren Racing using both existing personnel from outside the Formula 1 programme and additional specialist resource. Like all teams, McLaren Racing is limited to four mechanics and one engineer at each event for the one-make car and its two drivers, transported by Extreme E as part of the overall franchise package.
Lewis Hamilton’s X44 team pushed Rosberg X Racing close in the last campaign and will be hoping to go one better this time around. The team features legendary rally driver Sébastien Loeb and Cristina Gutiérrez, who will be feeling much more confident after an impressive first season.
Genesys Andretti United Extreme E will be another team to watch, with Catie Munnings and Timmy Hansen securing the teams one and only win in Greenland during the Arctic X-Prix.
Another big name taking part in the series is Carlos Sainz, arguably one of the greatest rally drivers of all-time. He, alongside Laia Sanz, will be representing the Acciona Sainz XE Team which finished sixth in the Teams’ Championship last year.
JBXE, founded by Formula One World Champion Jenson Button, came third overall last year, and so Molly Taylor and Kevin Hansen have once again been trusted to lead the teams’ championship charge this year.
Off-road racing icon Jutta Kleinschmidt and Nasser Al Attiyah will be behind the wheel ABT Cupra XE this year, replacing Mattias Ekström and Claudia Hürtgen.
Elsewhere, Christin GZ, formerly of Xite Energy Racing, has switched over to Veloce Racing, teaming up with South African Lance Woolridge. Brit Oliver Bennet remains with the Xite team and is partnered by Tamara Molinaro.
What comes next?
After the opening weekend in Saudi Arabia, the series will then head to Sardinia, Italy in May for the Island X-Prix. The Ocean X-Prix will follow that in July, however a location has yet to be confirmed for this event. The series will then make its debut in Chile for the very first ‘Copper X-Prix’ in September, before the season finale in Uruguay for the ‘Energy X-Prix’ in November.