Set against the spectacular vista of the desert in Alula, Saudi Arabia, Extreme E made its bow in front of the world. The new competition, the brainchild of Formula E founder, Alejandro Agag, sets electric SUVs in wild and remote locations around the world.
The 9km circuit was as treacherous as it was beautiful. The vast sandstone rockscapes, the sand dunes and unpredictable nature proved an entertaining spectacle, with drivers truly tested by the harsh conditions. Handling will be a key skillset of this drivers’ championship so it’ll be interesting to see how future races, along with the testing conditions each brings, will stress-test every ounce of a drivers’ experience at the wheel and the race team managing the vehicles.
Notable names have also joined the Extreme E stable, with F1 greats such as Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button and Nico Rosberg all having teams compete in the Extreme E. With such names pulling global interest and support from the F1 ecosystem, it’s a shrewd move by those behind Extreme E to ensure borrowed credibility from the start. It’s also worth pointing out that Extreme E follows in the footsteps of Formula E – the same founders, a similar focus in sustainable electric racing and a pledge to be carbon neutral in its operations.
With drivers both male and female in pairs, the race brings together something new for motorsport, with it bridging a traditional void for gender equality that has lasted decades. Each driver gets to race a lap of the circuit, ensuring that either gender gets equal drive time. Whilst the initial race saw male drivers taking the all-important first lap, Extreme E organisers have suggested that random pickings of who drives which lap could be brought in for future races.
With races also set to take place in jungle, glacial and artic environments, it will be interesting entertainment to witness electric SUVs taking to such extreme conditions, but that’s the point in the pursuit.
Full race calendar and details can be found at Extreme E