Currently reading: Extreme E kicks off in style as Rosberg's team wins
Talking points from the first round of the electric off-roader racing championship in Saudi Arabia
Damien Smith
News
3 mins read
4 April 2021

Extreme E burst into life with an action-packed weekend in the Saudi Arabian desert as Nico Rosberg got one over his old Formula 1 team-mate Lewis Hamilton through his RXR team’s dominant victory in the hands of Johan Kristoffersson and Molly Taylor.

There were some bumps along the way through the stunning landscapes of the Al’Ula region, but overall the new electric-powered off-road series’ debut should be hailed a raging success.

Hamilton vs Rosberg 2.0

“How funny was that? It was Hamilton versus Rosberg out there all day,” said Rosberg after his team topped qualifying on Saturday, only to be dropped to third by a penalty for speeding in the so-called switch zone, where each team’s male and female drivers swapped places.

But the setback didn’t stop RXR from claiming a comfortable win in the semi-final on Sunday morning, as three-time World Rallycross Champion Kristoffersson got the better of rally legends Sébastien Loeb and Carlos Sainz Sr at the start. Loeb and his Hamilton X44 team-mate Cristina Gutiérrez saw off Sainz and Laia Sanz to join the Rosberg crew in the X Final.

Andretti United pairing Timmy Hansen and Catie Munnings joined them after winning the second semi, known as the Crazy Race. Britain's Munnings, 23, had impressed on Saturday by completing her qualifying lap with a puncture and drove a strong lap in the X Prix final by making up time on experienced Australian rally champion Taylor.

Loeb and Gutiérrez struggled home third with a power steering problem – not the first on the Spark Odyssey 21 in its first weekend of competition.

Throwing up a dust storm

This was always going to be a learning experience for everyone involved in Extreme E, especially as teams had such a limited amount of pre-season testing. Owner-driver Jenson Button and his JBXE squad were always on the backfoot after getting their hands on the Odyssey for the first time only last Tuesday.

A range of problems for the nine teams included hot batteries and damper and steering trouble, while safety concerns on the desert course accumulated in a decision to reduce maximum power of the twin-motor SUV from 400kW (536bhp) to 225kW (301bhp) from Saturday afternoon.

Dust was the main concern, which you would think might have been predictable in a desert. The lack of visibility for following drivers led to a late change of race format, introducing one-at-a-time qualifying and just three instead of four cars starting each race. The format changes won’t necessarily remain for future rounds but took little away from the spectacle.

Abt Cupra, Ganassi and Veloce in the wars

Pity poor Claudia Hürtgen in Abt Cupra’s entry. The 49-year-old veteran barrel-rolled out of qualifying after hitting a bump at the wrong angle, then was rear-ended in the dust by Chip Ganassi Racing’s Kyle LeDuc in the shoot-out race on Sunday. LeDuc had also crashed on his own during the Friday shakedown.

The British Veloce team was also out of luck. Stéphane Sarrazin rolled his Odyssey on Saturday, landing on his car’s antennae which dinged the roll cage and made it a write-off. The team was forced to withdraw, meaning W Series champion Jamie Chadwick travelled all the way to Saudi to complete just a single lap of the 5.5-mile desert course.

READ MORE

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Tarmac to dirt: Jamie Chadwick on her Extreme E debut

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Clark.1909 5 April 2021

The most wasteful, pointless and boring motorsport ever devised. Jenson had it spot on when he said he would be okay if he was leading at turn 2. He wasn't and the car that was won each race because of the dust. Don't expect anything better as the Arctic race will blinbd the drivers with ice and snow from the car in front.

The comentaters were rubbish. This is a mega lap, really, it was 2 seconds slower than the best lap so did that make the fastest lap mega, mega? He is trying to match Loeb's time, really, I thought the idea was to be faster? Perhaps the real intention of this series is to promote the taking part is more important than winning.

The BBC coverage of the final was 2 hours and the final only took 12 minutes. Okay so it's about legacy so they went and collected plastic on the shoreline.

 

Have you noticed that the BBC and Mail on Line are not allowing comments for this publicity stunt.

soldi 4 April 2021
Watched the ITV coverage today. Gosh it was boring - I cannot see the appeal yet but will tune in for the next race to see if it gets any better.
Bimfan 4 April 2021

One can only marvel at these ex-F1 drivers who have probably done as much as anyone to help destroy the environment over the years. They live extremely privileged lifestyles in Monaco, so that they don't pay taxes.

Now  they areexhibiting the ultimate in irony and hypocrisy by preaching 'Save the planet' to all the rest of us struggling masses.

It's ludicrous and about as annoying as the weedy electrical whining noise of the 'cars' they are using.

Peter Cavellini 4 April 2021
Bimfan wrote:

One can only marvel at these ex-F1 drivers who have probably done as much as anyone to help destroy the environment over the years. They live extremely privileged lifestyles in Monaco, so that they don't pay taxes.

Now  they areexhibiting the ultimate in irony and hypocrisy by preaching 'Save the planet' to all the rest of us struggling masses.

It's ludicrous and about as annoying as the weedy electrical whining noise of the 'cars' they are using.

So, what your saying without realising it is, that all the Kids shouldn't have ambition?, that if they do make it to the top of their chosen profession they shouldn't accept whatever rewards that are excessive?, or, if they reach the top , they shouldn't use there influence to help a worthy cause,or a global problem?, anyway, this article was about racing, and it seems to have gone well, it just happens it was two F1 drivers, one ex driver and one current.

jason_recliner 6 April 2021
Eh?
MrJ 5 April 2021

Agree on the tax-exile status, though the e-series (and EVs in general) are now the future.

My Model S has done well over the last few years, and I can't think of a reason for returning to ICE. 

Ubberfrancis44 5 April 2021
MrJ wrote:

Agree on the tax-exile status, though the e-series (and EVs in general) are now the future.

My Model S has done well over the last few years, and I can't think of a reason for returning to ICE. 

Ubberfrancis44 5 April 2021
What does that have to do with the article?! After using an EV, I have now got an hybrid and it is being a far superior experience.

Motorsports need appeal and excitment, aswell as sound, no matter what is powering the cars. And to let you know, this series is definitely not it.

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