The most successful drivers in the history of Formula 1 and the World Rally Championship will team up in the new Extreme E electric off-road series next year when Sébastien Loeb competes for Lewis Hamilton’s new X44 squad.
The two drivers have a combined 16 world championship titles: Frenchman Loeb has won the WRC a record nine times, with 79 rally victories, while this year Hamilton scored his record-equalling seventh F1 crown and set a new record of 95 race wins.
The new Extreme E series is due to start in Saudi Arabia next March and will feature nine teams, each running a male and female driver, who will compete in a series of races on off-road courses.
Loeb will be joined in the X44 squad by Spanish driver Cristina Gutiérrez, a Dakar Rally regular who has also competed in the Spanish Rally Championship. Loeb and Gutiérrez recently tested the 536bhp electric Spark Odyssey 21, which all the teams in the series will use, on Donington Park’s rally course.
Loeb, who has competed in rallies, the Dakar, touring cars and rallycross since stepping back from full-time WRC driving, said: “I’m looking forward to competing in an electric vehicle. I had the chance to drive the car recently and it is incredible. Cristina is a fantastic driver and I can’t wait to partner with her and see what we can achieve together. I am really impressed by what Lewis is doing in Formula 1, too, so to be able to work with him on this is an honour.”
Hamilton added: “Cristina is an upcoming talent with a great future ahead of her, and Sébastien is a driver I have admired for so many years so I’m so proud and excited to have them on board.”
Loeb is the latest high-profile addition to Extreme E for 2021. The line-up includes double WRC champion Carlos Sainz, who will drive for his own Acciona Sainz team alongside Laia Sanz.
Rallycross and DTM racer Mattias Ekström and Claudia Hürtgen will race for the works-backed ABT Cupra XE squad, with Brit Catie Munnings joining rallycross racer Timmy Hansen at Andretti United. British W Series champion Jamie Chadwick will also compete, driving for Veloce Racing.