Fresh from a drive at the Goodwood Revival, Adrian Newey has just established a new Extreme E team alongside two-time Formula E champ Jean-Eric Vergne. The pairing’s new squad, Veloce Racing, will compete in the electric rally racing championship from its opener in February 2021 with Venturi, ABT and HWA also confirmed – and Sebastien Ogier and Jamie Chadwick amongst the driver line-up.
Veloce is a name only previously known in E-sport racing, so this marks its first entry into traditional (aka real) motorsport. Although Extreme E is not conventional either, because it uses a purpose-built, 550hp all-electric racer called Odyssey 21 and will be hosted in some of the world’s most vulnerable places – all in a bid to highlight the damage humanity is doing to them.
In fact, Veloce said it’s this highlighting of global destruction that has drawn it to the championship, with the firm announcing that it is eager to “support Extreme E’s goal of implementing positive legacy projects in each race location and not only raising awareness of the challenges faced but actively aiming to improve those environments”. Newey added that “everyone involved in Veloce Racing is extremely passionate about racing, competition and cutting-edge technology, as well as tackling environmental issues that face the world today”. Touching, no?
Rounds are due to take place in the Arctic, on an Asian glacier, next to the Amazon rainforest, on the Sahara Desert and on a Pacific Ocean island. If that all sounds bizarre, in order to the reduce the impact of this global motorsport series, Extreme E has purchased ex-Royal Mail ship RMS St Helena for £32 million to be its floating base, reducing the demand for air travel.
RMS St Helena, which is currently being modernised to lower its emissions, will carry the cars, operations equipment and pretty much everything else (barring the drivers and team staff, we assume) needed to host a championship at the five planned venues. The racing itself will run using a knockout format, while drones handle the filming duties - presumably to reduce the infrastructure that needs to be put into place.
There’s no mention of spectator grandstands or viewing spots on Extreme E’s website, which comes as little surprise given the intended locations, but it may hamper the appeal a bit. Still, with Newey, Verge and Ogier amongst Extreme E’s ranks, the series appears to have legs. Not that most of us lot will fall into the target market; we suspect this is a series very much looking to motivate Generation Z. We wish it luck!