Extreme E: Arctic XPrix | Andretti United Win Thrilling Final.

Catie Munnings (GBR), Andretti United Extreme E. Copyright Sam Bloxham

After an enthralling day’s racing it was Andretti United who took their first win of the season in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland.

The action kicked off with a bang in the first Semi Final, as top qualifiers X44 faced off against Veloce and Acciona Sainz. Undeterred by the pouring rain, Veloce’s Emma Gilmour took an early lead off of the line. It would not last very long, however, as Carlos Sainz used his hyper drive to take the position. From there, he stretched out a decent lead, as X44 and Veloce ran nose to tail through the tight technical sections.

By the time the teams entered the switch zone, Acciona Sainz had a 13 second advantage over their nearest rivals in Veloce. X44 were just a couple seconds further back. But now Acciona Sainz’s Laia Sanz faced her toughest challenge yet. All she had to do was hold off two of the most experienced drivers on the grid in X44’s Loeb and Veloce’s Sarrazin.

Still behind the green Veloce car, Loeb went for an ambitious move up the inside around the lake; a place nobody believed a pass was possible at. It was a bold attempt but ultimately it paid off, as the X44 car overtook Stephane Sarrazin, to continue its pursuit of Laia Sanz. Both Loeb and Sarrazin gradually started catching up to the Acciona Sainz car and the X44 driver used his hyper drive to good effect to take the lead. All three cars approached the rock garden nose to tail. Veloce, who had so far been unable to overtake Sanz, looked to be going out, until Sarrazin took an alternative line through the rocks. He had taken the lead! But, disaster! The alternative line had badly damaged the car and, as he went over the final jump, the suspension broke and he was unable to complete the race.

X44 had won an incredible opening race, with the Acciona Sainz team finishing just 0.72 seconds behind. Both teams had progressed to the final

Extreme E: Qualifying Report

image courtesy of ExtremeE

X44 topped an incredible day’s qualifying yet again as the Arctic XPrix weekend gets into full swing.

It was the new girl, Emma Gilmour, who kicked off qualifying in Q1 for the Veloce team. Coming in for the occupied Jamie Chadwick, Emma set a strong pace for teammate Stephane Sarrazin to build upon. Stephane had an uneventful run and, after a 10 second penalty was awarded for Emma knocking over a flag, Veloce Racing set a benchmark time of 14:19.436.

JBXE’s Mikaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky was next out on track and was going strong until the suspension broke as she went over the rocks. Their Q1 session ended without Kevin Hansen getting in the car.

Xite Energy Racing and ABT Cupra followed as both teams had incident free runs to go 3rd and 1st respectively, with ABT Cupra posting a superb time of 13:48.947, some 30.48 seconds quicker than Veloce’s initial time.

With ABT Cupra the new benchmark it was the turn of championship leaders Rosberg X Racing to take to the track. Johan Kristoffersson was the first of their two drivers to tackle the track and was several seconds up as he got to the halfway point of the lap. At that point disaster struck. As Johan went over a bump, the motor suddenly cut out. It took a few crucial seconds to reboot the car, and, as the car cut out twice more, they were left over a minute down when Molly Taylor took over. Yet more bad news for the RXR team as, just a short way into the lap, Molly rolled the car, sustaining huge bodywork damage in the process. Somehow, she was able to continue and brought the car home 1:40.69 seconds down on ABT Cupra’s time.

Sara Price got Chip Ganassi’s qualifying off to a flyer, handling the track superbly to give the team a lead coming in to the changeover. Last event’s super sector dominator, Kyle Leduc, came into the car and stormed the track to give the team a lead in this weekend’s super sector and provisionally fastest qualifier. However, at some point in the lap, Leduc hit a flagpole and was given a 10 second time penalty. This put them just behind ABT Cupra in the standings.

X44 were fastest qualifiers in both the previous rounds coming in to this weekend and they made a strong case to do so again. Both drivers had clean yet fast runs and they went quickest by about 3 seconds, with a time of 13:45.235.

Andretti United and Acciona Sainz finished off the first qualifying session in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland as both teams looked to set themselves up nicely for the races tomorrow. Acciona Sainz had a careful run and went 6th quickest, some 55.64 seconds off the pace. Unfortunately for Andretti United, the car shut off as Timmy Hansen came into the braking zone for the change over, losing him a minute of time. Catie Munnings was only able to claw back a bit of the deficit as the American outfit finished Q1 in 7th position.

Classification standings and points following Q1:

  1. X44 13:45.235 9 points
  2. ABT Cupra +3.71 8 points
  3. Chip Ganassi +6.39 7 points
  4. Veloce +34.20 6 points
  5. Xite Energy +51.74 5 points
  6. Acciona Sainz +55.64 4 points
  7. Andretti United +1:29.95 3 points
  8. RXR +1:44.40 2 points
  9. JBXE DNF 1 point

Stephane Sarrazin kicked off Q2 for Veloce but problems started almost immediately for the Frenchman. By the time he had reached the first turn, the power steering had broken. He tried to reset the system but was unable to fix it and the team were only able to set a benchmark time of 16:51.810

Kevin Hansen then did his first and only lap of the whole of qualifying for the JBXE team. He was initially very quick but more issues struck as the car shut down coming in to the braking zone for the switch over, just as it did for his brother Timmy. Once they’d got the car going again, Mikaela jumped in and had a solid lap that saw the team go fastest so far with a 14:42.102.

Problems seemed to be the theme of the day as the next three teams all failed to complete their Q2 runs. Xite Energy’s Oliver Bennet suffered techincal issues, meaning he was unable to complete a lap. ABT Cupra’s Ekstrom made it a little further but came in to the switch zone with both rear tires punctured. The team were unable to change them and Jutta Kleinschmidt did not finish the run. Chip Ganassi’s Kyle Leduc didn’t even make the halfway stage as the rear left suspension broke going over a jump.

Next it was the turn of the Q1 quickest, X44. Loeb set the pace early, handing over to teammate Gutierrez with a 10 second advantage over JBXE. Christina had a steady run and brought the car home to provisionally top the session with a time of 14:37.598.

The rest of the qualifying session was uneventful as Andretti United, Acciona Sainz, and RXR all had solid runs to round off qualifying 3rd, 5th and 1st respectively.

Classification standings and points for Q2:

  1. RXR 14:26.647 9 points
  2. X44 +10.951 8 points
  3. Andretti United +14.917 7 points
  4. JBXE +15.455 6 points
  5. Acciona Sainz +30.377 5 points
  6. Veloce +1:56.163 4 points
  7. ABT Cupra DNF 3 points
  8. Xite Energy DNF 2 points
  9. Chip Ganassi DNF 1 point

For the final qualifying classification the points from both qualifying sessions were added up, with ties  being settled by who had the fastest super sector times. X44 topped the classification, going on to compete against Veloce and Acciona Sainz  in Semi Final 1. ABT Cupra, RXR, and Andretti United will compete in Semi Final 2. The first 2 finishers in each semi final will progress to the final. The last spot in the final will be contested between Chip Ganassi, JBXE, and Xite Energy.

Final Qualifying Classification:

  1. X44 17 points
  2. ABT Cupra 11 points
  3. RXR 11 points
  4. Andretti United 10 points
  5. Veloce 10 points
  6. Acciona Sainz 9 points
  7. Chip Ganassi 8 points
  8. JBXE 7 points
  9. Xite Energy 7 points

RXR’s lead at the top of the championship has weakened slightly following qualifying as X44 close to just 12 points away. Points that count in the championship are awarded by the position in qualifying, with the fastest, X44, receiving 12 points, and the slowest, Xite Energy, receiving just 4.

Here’s how the championship looks heading in to the races tomorrow:

  1. RXR 81 points
  2. X44 69 points
  3. JBXE 49 points
  4. Andretti United 46 points
  5. ABT Cupra 46 points
  6. Acciona Sainz 43 points
  7. Xite Energy 41 points
  8. Veloce 39 points
  9. Chip Ganassi 36 points

With qualifying completed, we’re finely poised for an exciting day of racing tomorrow!

Extreme E: Arctic XPrix Preview

image courtesy of ExtremeE

Taking place in the picturesque landscape of Kangerlussuaq, Greenland, Extreme E returns this weekend with its first ever Arctic XPrix.

Greenland is set to host its first ever motorsport event in just a few days time as the teams and drivers prepare to take on the ice and snow. Kangerlussuaq, where the race is being held, is home to the now greatly diminished Russell Glacier, the remnants of which will provide a good site to host the eight kilometre circuit. Drivers will have to negotiate tricky technical sections around rocks, as well as more open sections, all whilst coping with an icy surface. The Arctic XPrix circuit will host a challenge never seen before in Extreme E

Something else that’s never been seen before in Extreme E is the five car final, which is one of a number of changes to the weekend format. Learning from the last two events, qualifying has had a shakeup, with each of the two sessions awarding classification points, rather than providing a combined time. Now, the fastest team in each session will be awarded nine points, with other teams being awarded eight to one each session respectively.  The overall qualifying positions will be set by the highest to lowest number of points, giving teams who DNF in one of their runs more of a chance. Should any teams be on equal points, they will be ordered by their fastest super sector times.  It is important to note that these classification points do not count towards the championship.

Once the qualifying classification has been established, the teams will take part in one of three races. The teams that qualify in first, fifth, or sixth will race in Semi Final One, with the top two progressing to the final. The second, third, and fourth qualifiers will race in Semi Final Two. The top two finishers in this race will also progress to the final. The bottom three qualifiers will all face off in the Crazy Race, where only the winner will complete the grid for the final.

The championship points system remains unchanged for this weekend, as points are awarded for both qualifying and the race. Twelve points will still be awarded to the top qualifier and the rest of the points will be evenly distributed down to four points for the ninth qualifier. Points will also be awarded for the final race classification, with the winner receiving twenty five points, down to the bottom finisher receiving four. Five points will still be awarded to the team with the fastest super sector time of the weekend.

Coming in to the weekend, Rosberg X Racing hold a fourteen point lead over X44 with a total of seventy one points. JBXE are a further thirteen points back, with just seven points separating the remaining six teams.

The Arctic XPrix will also see a couple of changes to the driver line ups. Jutta Kleinschmidt, who raced for ABT Cupra in Senegal in place of an ill Claudia Hurtgen, will make her debut as a full time driver for the team, replacing Claudia, who wanted to put more focus on her other driving roles. Senegal also saw Kevin Hansen replace Jenson Button at JBXE as the Formula One champion looked to prioritise his role as team principle. Kevin will continue to partner Mikaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky at the Arctic XPrix. Veloce reserve driver Emma Gilmour will come in to the team in place of Jamie Chadwick, who is racing in W Series at Spa this weekend.

Every Extreme E event aims to both highlight an environmental issue, and leave a positive impact on the communities they visit. This weekend, the series will discuss melting ice sheets and rising sea levels. The legacy program consists of several seminars and teaching resources, which hopes to transform climate education in Greenland. It is believed around three thousand six hundred Greenlandic children will take part in Climate Week in September, as they learn about the issues surrounding climate change and how they can address them. Extreme E have partnered with UNICEF to make this happen.

The one of world’s cleanest racing series, racing in one of the world’s most beautiful locations. You’d be a fool to miss it!

Formula E Berlin Eprix Weekend Preview: Championship Wide Open

image courtesy of Formula E

The sun is beginning to set on another enthralling season of Formula E as the championship heads to Berlin with 18 drivers still in championship contention.

Formula E returns to the Berlin Tempelhof Airport for its season finale this weekend as both teams and constructors titles are still wide open. It will be the 6th time the all electric racing series has visited the airport, with the circuit making its debut in 2015, albeit with a different layout. With just 10 turns and only 2.4km long, the current layout was first used in 2017 and has since become a staple of the Formula E calendar.

This year, however, there is a slight change to the weekend. Following last year’s successful running of 3 different layouts, the second race will be run in reverse, with work needing to be done overnight to ensure that the barriers are all correctly positioned for the new design. The reverse loop was trialed in 2020 as part of the series’ unprecedented 6 races in 9 days season finale.

A staggering 18 drivers and 10 teams come in to the weekend able to win the championships, as Mercedes EQ driver Nyck De Vries edges out Envision Virgin’s Robin Frijns by just 6 points. A whopping 29 points is available for each of the two races so it really is all to play for.

In the teams championship, Envision Virgin lead Mercedes EQ by just 7 points. Jaguar are a mere 2 points further back.

Audi in particular will look to end the season strong as they say goodbye to the series. Created by Hans Jurgen Abt, the German team were among the first to enter the series back in Season 1. Despite some name changes along the way they have become one of the most successful and iconic teams the sport has ever had, finally winning the constructors championship in Season 4 (the 2017/18 season) with their drivers Lucas Di Grassi and Daniel Abt.

With the departure of Audi, we may also see the departure of their star driver Lucas Di Grassi. Di Grassi has driven every race for the German team since Formula E’s inception, and he has become one of the sports best ever drivers. From the very first race Di Grassi had etched his name into the history books, capitalizing on a collision between Nico Prost and Nick Hiedfeld to win the inaugural race. He then followed this win up a few years later with a Season 3 title win. Lucas himself is confident of remaining in the series next year, with rumors circling that he may take Norman Nato’s Venturi seat. However, if Formula E has taught us anything, it’s that this series is never predictable, so a Di Grassi exit cannot be ruled out.

Prior to this weekend it was also announced that several drivers will remain with their teams for next season, whilst BMW will also (sort of) leave the sport. Both Porsche drivers, Pascal Wehrlein and Andre Lotterer will continue with the German outfit, and Robin Frijns will still race for Envision Virgin. BMWi Andretti’s Jake Dennis will also remain at the team as it changes its name to Andretti Autosport. BMW will continue to supply the powertrains however.

It’s set to be a weekend of both firsts and lasts in Berlin and with both championships still wide open, you’d be a fool to miss it.

British Grand Prix’s Carbon Neutral Broadcast

Ahead of their plan to be Net Carbon Zero by 2030, Formula One announced that the British Grand Prix was their first completely carbon neutral broadcast.

Working closely with Albert, a company that helps broadcasters to produce sustainable productions, Formula One was awarded the Albert Certification. In order to be given this award, companies must calculate the carbon footprint of their broadcast and then create, and successfully execute, a Carbon Action Plan.

As part of their plan to have a completely carbon neutral production, Formula One made several changes going in to the weekend. Over 7500 litres of diesel was replaced by Hydrogenated Vegetable Oils (HVOs) to fuel their generators. According to biodiesel production company Aggreko, HVOs cut Nitrogen Oxide emissions by up to 25% and reduce particulates by up to 42%). This all equates to less greenhouse gas emissions.

Formula One also focused on transportation in their Carbon Action Plan. Zero-emission vehicles were introduced to some of their circuit operations, and up to 70% of staff cars were swapped for hybrids. When in electric-only mode and charged by the UK mains supply, it is believed that CO2 is reduced by up to 40% compared to a small petrol car.

Away from the track, Formula One’s remote broadcasting facility in Biggin Hill was run on renewable energy supply with low-energy lighting to help improve efficiency. They also ran a “Switch it Off” campaign to encourage reduced energy consumption, and had a wider variety of vegan and vegetarian meals in the canteens. This last step is particularly significant, as animal agriculture is one of the leading contributors to global greenhouse gas emissions; red meats such as beef and lamb being particularly bad offenders.

The final stage of their Carbon Action Plan was to offset all remaining emissions via a CO2 offset scheme that is partnered with Albert. Naturally, companies cannot offset their way to carbon neutrality in the long term, however it allows them to be carbon neutral as they aim to produce as close to zero greenhouse gasses as possible.

It was a good weekend for environment lovers as Formula One produced their first carbon neutral broadcast, which was capped off by a fan litter pick organised and led by Aston Martin driver Sebastian Vettel. This is hopefully the first of many as Formula One aim to make every event sustainable by 2025.

Extreme E: Ocean Legacy

Molly Taylor (AUS)/Johan Kristoffersson (SWE), Rosberg X Racing. Image courtesy of Sam Bloxham

As the chequered flag fell on the second round of Extreme E’s inaugural season, the championship still had plenty of work to complete off-track.

Extreme E’s tag line “Race Without a Trace” was put into action again in Senegal, as they aimed to highlight issues surrounding ocean health, whilst leaving a positive impact on the local communities. Educating on sea level rise, plastic pollution, and rising ocean temperatures, as well as planting mangroves and engaging schools were just some of the actions Extreme E took whilst out in Dakar.

Plastic pollution is a substantial problem on the Senegalese coast so Extreme E teamed up with to.org to support the Ecozone Project based in Lac Rose. The aim of the project is to raise awareness of climate issues and mitigation strategies by involving the local communities in the creation of a healthy environment. With this knowledge, the ultimate goal is to build a sustainable economy through guidance, resources, encouraging self-sufficiency, and economic autonomy.

In June 2020, the EcoBrique Challenge was launched. 3000 children and other locals took part in a huge effort to create more than 6000 bricks from plastic waste. Roughly 80% of plastics found in oceans come from land based sources, so not only is the EcoBrique Challenge helping to build a primary school toilet and benches, but it also helps locals recycle the waste that gets washed up on their shores.

Some other infrastructure was also built. Gardens were created to allow children to engage with local farmers, as well as planting more than 600 trees. They also installed a water pump to prevent the community from needing to walk long distances and increase cleanliness, vital for keeping disease at bay.

However, Extreme E’s initiatives weren’t just limited to the EcoBrique Project. They also aim to help to.org and NGO Oceanium plant one million mangroves. So far, over 500 people have helped the team reach the half of that figure in just three weeks.The remaining number will be planted during the 2021 rainy season, and with a whopping 85% of those already in place developing into healthy mangroves, Senegal will really start to see the benefits.

Nachson Mimran, CEO and Co-founder of to.org, explains that “Mangroves are not only the most effective trees on earth for sequestering carbon, they also protect against coastal erosion and regulate soil salinity so coastal communities can farm fertile soil.” She also states that mangroves protect fish habitats, ensuring locals can get the protein their diets need.

As in AlUla, the drivers and staff also took part in a beach clean. Together the likes of Jamie Chadwick, Stephane Sarrazin and Mikaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky collected over 100 bags of waste from the Lac Rose beaches.

Extreme E raced in Senegal to highlight the issues surrounding ocean health. It is believed that half of coral reefs and a third mangroves and sea grasses have already been lost, leaving coastal communities vulnerable to erosion, storm damage, and food shortages. Vital fish stocks are teetering on a knife edge, threatening the entire food chain. Plastics, oil spills, and agrochemicals are destroying ocean habitats and affecting every animal in them. Climate change is also causing the heating of oceans, making them more acidic, melting ice, and causing the water to expand. Many islands and coastlines are at risk because the sea levels are rising by about 30 millimetres every ten years.

Sheena Talma, Scientific Committee Advisor to Extreme E, finished “When we talk about things like global climate change and the fact that it’s actually immediate, not two years from now and relying on someone else to deal with it, it makes people uncomfortable. But if we don’t talk about it, find solutions, and take action, we will all be in real trouble.”

Safe to say, Extreme has put some great initiatives together to ensure that they leave a positive impact on the communities they visit.

RXR Come Out On Top In Red Flagged Final

2016 Formula One World Champion Nico Rosberg’s team have sealed a second event win in as many races to extend their lead at the top of the Extreme E Constructors Championship.

Semi Final 1:

Sunday’s action kicked off with the first of the two semi finals. With the top two finishers out of X44, RXR, and Abt Cupra progressing to the final, it was sure to be an entertaining watch.

RXR lined up on the inside, with X44 alongside. Abt Cupra took to the outside grid slot. As the lights went green, there was a lot of initial wheel-spin. Ekstrom in the Abt Cupra was the quickest off the line though, and took an early lead into the first breaking zone. Just behind him X44’s Loeb and RXR’s Kristoffersson were battling it out for second place. Loeb narrowed ahead but Kristoffersson attempted a huge switchback move and took the position. All three cars ran nose to tail all the way through the lap but nobody was able to get by. As they came into the switch zone, Abt Cupra lead RXR, who lead X44.

However, more issues for Jutta Kleinschmidt in the switch-over saw Abt fall to the back of the pack and RXR take the lead. Gutierrez pushed Taylor the whole way but just could not find a way through, and, despite Jutta’s best efforts, she was not able to reclaim a position. RXR crossed the line just two seconds ahead of X44, who were themselves just one second ahead of Abt Cupra. Some incredible misfortune meant Abt Cupra finished the weekend in 5th position, as RXR and X44 progressed to the final.

Molly Taylor (AUS)/Johan Kristoffersson (SWE), Rosberg X Racing | Credit: Extreme E

Semi Final 2:

The second of the two semi finals was just as exciting as the first, arguably more so as Veloce, JBXE, and Xite Energy battled it out for the remaining two places in the final.

This time round, Veloce started on the inside with Jamie Chawick taking their start. JBXE’s Kevin Hansen, and Xite Energy’s Oliver Bennett lined up alongside her. When the lights went out it was Hansen who took the lead, using his hyper drive to extend the gap to the cars behind. As all the cars reached the first turn, JBXE lead with Veloce some way back in second. From there, Hansen continued to extend his lead as Chadwick and Bennett fought over second place the entire lap. For the most part Chadwick was able to keep Bennett behind, but an issue with the pit limiter meant Xite Energy took second in the final few corners before the switch. As all the cars came into the switch zone, JBXE held a significant lead with Xite Energy just edging out Veloce.

Mikaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky took over for JBXE and continued to extend the gap to finish a whopping thirty seconds ahead of her closest rival. Behind her, however, Christine GZ and Stephane Sarrazin continued an enthralling battle. They followed closely the entire lap but Sarrazin spotted a gap and went for it, causing a tight squeeze through a narrow gate. He pushed his way through and, despite a late wobble with the pit limiter, managed to take the final spot in the final. Xite Energy’s weekend ended there, with them finishing 6th overall.

Shoot-out:

The race for positions seven to nine was hotly contested between the teams who had issues in Saturday qualifying.

Andretti United lined up on the inside this time with Acciona Sainz sandwiching the two American outfits. As the lights went out, Timmy Hansen for Andretti United took an early lead, but the experienced Carlos Sainz dived down the inside into the first braking zone and took the position. From there he built out a bit of a gap as Hansen and Price went nose to tail. Several times it looked like the Chip Ganassi car might get past Hansen but she was unable to and the teams entered the switch zone with Sainz leading Andretti, who lead Chip Ganassi.

But then came the Kyle Leduc show as he battled to make up the lost positions. He showed much of his qualifying pace and quickly closed in on the two leaders. Waiting for the bumpy section he had been so fast in all weekend, Leduc followed close behind Munnings and then put his foot to the floor. He screamed past Munnings before taking Sanz for a lead he would not lose. Munnings too closed in on Sanz but was ultimately unable to pass her. Chip Ganassi crossed the line first, followed by Acciona Sainz and Andretti United respectively.

Sara Price (USA)/Kyle Leduc (USA), Segi TV Chip Ganassi Racing | Credit: Extreme E

Final:

The last race of the weekend welcomed two new teams to the final. JBXE and Veloce were taking part in their first final, with RXR and X44 both returning following their success at the Desert X Prix.

RXR started on the inside with X44 alongside. JBXE took the outside grid slot with Veloce taking the space next to them. As the lights went out Veloce’s Sarrazin got squeezed by X44 and JBXE and the Frenchman was forced to lift to avoid a collision.

This wasn’t the only close call of the opening lap though, as X44’s Gutierrez made contact with RXR’s Taylor. It appeared that Rosberg and Hamilton were wanting to renew their old rivalry. It would be short lived, however, as X44 were forced to retire due to damage from the collision. JBXE also stopped as the suspension broke going over a bump on the beach. As the remaining two teams reached the switch zone, race director Scott Elkins brought out the red flag.

Drivers swapped and cars repositioned on the starting grid, the final lap was to be a straight shoot-out between RXR and Veloce. The lights went out and Kristofferson immediately dominated bringing the RXR car home winners of the Ocean X Prix. Chawick suffered no issues and finished the race in second place. JBXE rounded out the podium despite not finishing the race, as Mikaela got round slightly more of the lap than X44.

Another strong weekend for Rosberg X Racing saw them top the Ocean X Prix, while Andretti’s qualifying problems saw them languish at the foot of the table. The final weekend standings:

  1. RXR
  2. Veloce
  3. JBXE
  4. X44
  5. Abt Cupra
  6. Xite Energy
  7. Chip Ganassi
  8. Acciona Sainz
  9. Andretti United

RXR’s win saw them extend their lead at the top of the championship to 14 points over X44. Meanwhile a crucial 5 points were awarded to Chip Ganassi, as Kyle Leduc set the fastest time of the weekend through the super sector. The current championship standings:

  1. RXR 71 Points
  2. X44 57 Points  
  3. JBXE 44 Points 
  4. Andretti 37 Points 
  5. Xite 37 Points
  6. Sainz 36 Points 
  7. Abt Cupra 35 Points 
  8. Veloce 31 Points 
  9. Chip Ganassi 30 Points

An incredible weekend of racing saw the middle of the championship fight become closer than ever, whilst bringing issues relating to ocean health to the fore. All eyes now turn to August as Extreme E continues on the glaciers of Greenland. You’d be crazy to miss it.

X44 Top Thrilling Qualifying

image courtesy of ExtremeE -Andrew Ferraro

Reigning Formula One World Champion, Lewis Hamilton’s team, X44 ended an enthralling Qualifying Saturday on top of the time sheets, showing strong pace going into tomorrow’s semi final.

Qualifying 1:

Following little running in the first round, Veloce’s Jamie Chadwick started off qualifying for the second round of the inaugural season of Extreme E. After steady laps from her and her teammate Stephane Sarrazin, the team set a benchmark time of 11:37.599.

Image courtesy of ExtremeE – Sam Bloxham

Acciona Sainz got off to a strong start in their run, but the car unfortunately ground to a halt part way round Laia Sanz’s lap and they were unable to finish. Andretti United’s car also came to a stop but, after a lengthy delay, they were able to get moving again, finishing with a time of 14:39.659.

Image courtesy of ExtremeESam Bloxham

Next was the turn of championship leaders and Desert X Prix race winners Rosberg X Racing. Some of the pace from the last round appeared to be missing though as, despite being on provisional pole, they set a beatable time of 11:02.310.

Abt Cupra followed RXR and their drivers put in a strong performance. Jutta Kleinschmidt, who was standing in for the ill Claudia Hurtgen, was particularly impressive, as the 58 year old rounded off their run to put them top of the table with a 10:58.122. Unfortunately for them though, during the changeover, Jutta entered the switch zone before the car had been put into neutral, and the team promptly received a 15 second time penalty.

Then came Lewis Hamilton’s X44, whose drivers put in a superb perormance which saw them leap to provisional pole with a 10:47.289. American racing team Chip Ganassi also had a strong showing with Leduc putting in a phenomenal performance. They ended Q1 just 4 seconds down on X44, with a time of 10:51.528.

JBXE and Xite Energy then rounded off an intriguing first qualifying session with times of 11:13.405, and 11:52.806 respectively.

The standings after Q1:

  1. X44 10:47.289
  2. Chip Ganassi +4.239
  3. RXR +15.021
  4. Abt Cupra +25.833
  5. JBXE +26.116
  6. Veloce +50.310
  7. Xite Energy +1:05.517
  8. Andretti United +3:52.376
  9. Acciona Sainz DNF

Qualifying 2:

Going into Q2 the teams switched around their starting driver, which meant Stephane Sarrazin kicked off the final qualifying session of the Ocean X Prix for Veloce. The team had a relatively uneventful run and saw them post a combined time of 23:05.370.

Andretti United went into this session attempting to claw back as much of their lost time as possible. Unfortunately for the american outfit, they were unable to do so and were left with a 25:57.068. Their only chance of progressing to the semi finals would come from other teams running into problems.

Rosberg X Racing’s Molly Taylor got some serious air time in her final lap but some excellent car control prevented her from spinning out. They achieved a combined time of 22:12.438, putting them in a temporary pole position. Abt Cupra almost dislodged them straight away but ended up just 8 seconds behind with a 22:20.813.

X44 were the early pace setters in Q1, and another flying run from both of their drivers saw them jump up to the top of the time sheets with a 21:44.856. Close competitors Chip Ganassi got off to a tremendous start in their final qualifying run and were even a few seconds up on X44’s time. But then disaster struck. Just as Leduc entered the tree section, his car ground to a halt. After some desperate button pressing the car got going again, but it would be impossible to claw back the several minutes of time he had lost. Teammate Sara Price brought the car home, finishing with a 25:41.815.

With three teams having issues, remaining teams JBXE and Xite Energy just needed to have uneventful runs and see the cars home. Both teams did exactly that and finished with total times of 22:25.426 and 23:36.461 respectively.

Acciona Sainz rounded off the session after just managing to fix the issues they had had in Q1. With them not setting a time in that session, all they could do in Q2 was attempt to set the fastest time through the super sector. Both drivers pushed hard but ultimately neither were able to claim it from Chip Ganassi’s Kyle Leduc.

The final qualifying positions:

  1. X44 21:44.856
  2. RXR +27.580
  3. Abt Cupra +35.950
  4. JBXE +40.570
  5. Veloce +1:20.510
  6. Xite Energy +1:51.600
  7. Chip Ganassi +3:56.960
  8. Andretti United +4:12.210
  9. Acciona Sainz +1 Lap

Following an exciting Saturday the gap at the top of the team standings has closed slightly with RXR just 4 points ahead of X44. The current standings:

  1. RXR 46 Points
  2. X44 42 Points  
  3. Andretti 33 Points
  4. Sainz 30 Points 
  5. Xite 27 Points
  6. JBXE 26 Points 
  7. Abt Cupra 23 Points 
  8. Chip Ganassi 17 Points  
  9. Veloce 12 Points

All eyes now turn to Sunday where we will see the teams face off to determine the final finishing positions. In Semi Final 1, the first two finishers of X44, RXR, and Abt Cupra will progress to the final, where they will be joined by the top two finishers of Semi Final 2 (which consists of JBXE, Veloce, and Xite Energy). The shoot-out will be contested by Chip Ganassi, Andretti United, and Acciona Sainz as they vie for positions seven to nine.

It’s certain to be an exciting final day as the nine teams battle it out to be crowned rulers of the Ocean X Prix.

Extreme E: Ocean X Prix Preview

After a long wait, the inaugural season of Extreme E resumes with the Ocean X Prix; aiming to highlight issues relating to ocean health.

Lac Rose Circuit

Picture courtesy of Extreme E

Following its successful debut in AlUla, Saudi Arabia, the exciting, new, electric rally series heads to the home of off-road racing, with the teams set to take on sections of the world renowned Dakar Rally. Based around Lac Rose, Dakar, the teams and drivers will race along the Senegalese coastline before turning onto a more technical section in among the sand dunes. Along the way the racers will have to contend with surface changes as well as lots of elevation changes. This is sure to be a true test of the drivers skills.

Format Changes

Coming into this weekend there are a couple of format changes to be aware of. Qualifying will continue to take place over two sessions, with the times being added up to give a team’s final qualifying time. The quickest three teams will then face off in the first of two semi finals, with the top two finishers of that race advancing to the final. The fourth to sixth fastest qualifiers will also race against each other in the second of the two semi finals, but with the top two finishers also now advancing to the final. This means we will now see a four car final, as opposed to the three car final we witnessed in AlUla. The slowest three qualifiers will still compete for positions seventh to ninth in the shoot-out.

The Ocean X Prix also sees the introduction of the super sector. An extra five points is now available to the team whose driver is the quickest through a specific section of the track. This means that everyone still has a chance of gaining points for their respective teams, regardless of where they qualify.

Dakar, Senegal Circuit Map
Picture Courtesy of Extreme E

Championship Battle:

Just nine points separate the top four teams in the championship standings with the title fight beginning to heat up. After a dominant win in AlUla, Rosberg X Racing head the table with thirty five points, closely followed by X44, Andretti United, and Acciona Sainz with thirty, twenty eight, and twenty six points respectively. Veloce foot the table with just four points following a crash in shakedown that saw them miss most of the rest of the weekend.

Driver Line-up Alterations:

2009 Formula One World Champion and JBXE team owner Jenson Button has stepped aside from his racing duties this weekend in order to focus on his team management role. Stepping in to replace him is Kevin Hansen, rally cross driver and brother of Andretti United driver, Timmy Hansen. Kevin is no stranger to Extreme E, helping to develop and test the Odyssey 21 in its early stages of development. He is also a good friend of teammate Mikaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky, with the pair having raced together in local rally championships when they were younger.

With a revised format, a title battle on a knife edge, and racing around the famous Dakar Rally, you’d be crazy to miss this weekend’s Extreme E action.

Extreme E’s Saudi Legacy

Last weekend’s Extreme E burst onto the motor racing scene with an enthralling opener in AlUla, Saudi Arabia. But whilst Rosberg X Racing’s Johan Kristoffersson and Molly Taylor were (metaphorically) tearing it up on the track, important environmental work was happening off it. In the build-up to the inaugural round, Extreme E placed heavy focus on to the championship’s desire to leave a positive, lasting impact on the local environment. They claim that not only will each event be completely carbon neutral, but a “legacy program” will also be set up in each location.

For the Saudi Arabia X-Prix, desertification and plastic pollution were the main areas that were focused on, with the legacy program seeing Extreme E support the Ba’a Foundation to help with turtle conservation on the Red Sea coastline. In particular, the program aims to protect the endangered Green turtle, and the critically endangered Hawksbill turtle, both of which are suffering from entanglement, rising sand temperatures, and nest flooding due to rising sea levels. Many of the drivers also took part in a clean up of the Ras Baridi beach.

The drivers have come together to support Extreme E’s causes off the track – Courtesy of Charly Lopez

At the start of each session, the all-electric off-road series broadcast information regarding the issue of desertification, and how it is affecting local communities. Desertification is the process by which fertile land is transformed into a desert, typically brought on by drought, rising temperatures, or improper land management. The effects of this can be catastrophic. As the deserts grow, the amount of land available for farming crops diminishes, which results in the loss of food for the community and increases famine. The amount of available water is also reduced, and Extreme E regularly highlighted this across the weekend.

Throughout its first race weekend, Extreme E also implemented several other measures that ensured it would be the most sustainable sport possible. No single-use plastics were used on site, communal water stations were placed, and food packaging was made from Polymateria (a biodegradable plastic). The batteries themselves were charged using hydrogen fuel cells manufactured by AFC Energy. These are completely emission free and only have water as a byproduct. The water from the fuel cell was collected and either used to clean the cars, or shared between local communities. AFC Energy also signed a memorandum of understanding with Altaaqa, operator of a large mobile diesel generator rental fleet, meaning both companies share a common goal of transitioning the region away from fossil fuel dependence, and towards zero emission energy. This, however, is not legally binding.

On the whole, it appears that Extreme E’s inaugural event was a big success both on and off the track. It is already clear that the series doing many things to ensure the only trace they leave is a positive legacy.