The six-time Formula 1 world champion will be a part of the inaugural Extreme E racing series not as a driver but a team owner of the X44 outfit.
Formula 1 veteran Lewis Hamilton is set to make his debut on the emerging electric motorsport scene with the all-new Extreme E off-road racing series. However, contrary to popular assumption, Hamilton will not be one of the drivers in the series but will be associated with the one-make racing series as a team owner.
His team, named X44 (after his Formula 1 competition number), will compete alongside other global outfits like Chip Ganassi Racing & Andretti United (USA), Techeetah (Indonesia), Veloce Racing (Great Britain), QEV Technologies (Spain), and Abt & HWA (Germany). All these teams are confirmed for the first season of Extreme E, which will begin in the latter half of January 2021.
Sharing his thoughts on the new venture, Lewis Hamilton said, 'Extreme E is an exciting new sustainability initiative, and this is a great opportunity to be involved from the outset as a team founder. Of course, my ambitions and commitments with Mercedes in Formula One mean that I won’t be operationally involved in X44, but I’m excited to play a different role in this new series, one that brings my vision for a more sustainable and equal world to life.'
Extreme E is the brainchild of Spanish businessman & former politician Alejandro Agag. Agag is also the force behind the now-popular Formula E championship, currently serving as CEO of the FIA-affiliated single-seater electric racing series.
The Extreme E race calendar will consist of five 'X Prix' race events. Each will take place in five different remote locations that are 'already damaged or severely under threat of climate change'. Each location will feature a completely different & challenging terrain (for example – arctic, desert, rainforest, glacier, and coastal). As of now, the five X Prix events will take place in Senegal, Saudi Arabia, Nepal, Greenland & Brazil.
The key agenda behind the Extreme E off-road racing series is to highlight the growing impact of climate change on such locations and also to highlight the potential of electric motorsport. Therefore, having Dakar-style off-road machines fight it out over some challenging terrain but without the environmental impact of conventional motorsport will be a pleasant change for viewers and fans. As expected, the Extreme E series will consist of young talent and will serve as a good entry-point for rookies into motorsport.
As for the vehicle, all teams in the Extreme E will use the Odyssey21, a Dakar-inspired E-SUV manufactured by Spark Racing Technology, as the base vehicle. Much like in Formula E, the teams will be allowed to test & develop their car & its final powertrain, albeit under the rubric of some general guidelines & specs. The Spark Odyssey21 develops 542bhp and weighs 1,650kg, with most of the weight attributed to the battery pack (developed by Williams Advanced Engineering). It is capable of reaching from 0-100km/h in 4.5 seconds, at gradients of up to 130 per cent, thanks to bespoke off-road tyres developed by Continental.