Just weeks before the start of the spectacular new Extreme E off-road racing series, the organisers have introduced a further top-class addition to the teams set to take professional motor racing to the most remote corners of the earth with electric SUVs from April. Following announcements by former Formula 1 drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg that they will be participating with their newly founded X44 and Rosberg Xtreme Racing teams, Extreme E is set to welcome another prominent name from the premier class of motorsport in Jenson Button. Like Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, Jenson Button has founded his own “JBXE” team for the competition. In contrast to his fellow F1 world champions, however, Jenson Button will sit behind the wheel in person. “I caught the off-road bug a few years back so I’ve followed the plans for Extreme E with great interest from the beginning,” says the 2009 Formula 1 world champion. “What Alejandro Agag, Ali Russell and the team have managed to create is nothing short of incredible. In Extreme E they’ve created a product that will offer first-class racing and entertainment to the fans. But what makes it unique is that it uses the attention to highlight the impact of climate change,” he says, explaining his decision to participate.
Indeed, a special feature of Extreme E is its choice of routes close to threatened habitats. The racing series’ intention here is to raise awareness of climate change among motorsport fans worldwide, as well as among spectators, politicians and local authorities at the venues, and encourage them to step up their efforts to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
As a founding partner and main sponsor of the racing series, Continental is delighted to welcome the latest high-profile addition. “The ever-growing interest in Extreme E proves that the new racing series has its finger on the pulse,” says Sandra Roslan, who is responsible for the project at Continental. “It’s becoming clearer by the day that we’ve set something in motion that raises awareness and offers an opportunity to persuade large numbers of people to act responsibly when it comes to the environment. This makes Continental proud and happy. Jenson Button is a fantastic motorsport champion whose presence in the cockpit of the ODYSSEY 21 will contribute significantly to further enhancing acceptance and coverage of the new racing series.” Between 2000 and 2017, the motorsport icon clocked up a streak of 306 Formula 1 starts, 15 victories and 50 podium places. In 2018 and 2019, he then competed for the Kunimitsu team in the Japanese Super GT series, finishing as the overall winner in his very first season. Subsequently, he gained his first off-road experience at the Baja 1000 and the Mint 400.
In addition to Jenson Button’s JBXE team, Nico Rosberg’s Xtreme Racing and Lewis Hamilton’s X44, seven further teams have announced their participation. These include Andretti United and Chip Ganassi Racing familiar from the IndyCar series, the Spanish Hispano Suiza Xite Energy Team project, as well as the ACCIONA/Sainz XE team and the British Veloce Racing stable, which was co-founded by the Formula E champion Jean-Éric Vergne, plus Team Techeetah from Asia. A German team, ABT CUPRA XE will also be in the starting line-up. ABT CUPRA XE has Formula E experience and counts among the most successful German motorsport teams, having won titles in the Super Touring Car Cup, the DTM and the ADAC GT Masters, three of Germany’s most prestigious racing series in recent years.
In the races, which will be broadcast live on Eurosport and ProSieben MAXX in Germany, all the teams will start with identical technical equipment: an SUV dubbed the ODYSSEY 21 and fitted with 37-inch CrossContact Extreme E racing tires, which have been specially developed for the series by technology company Continental and reliably bring the vehicle’s 550 HP to the track in all situations.
Continental is a premium sponsor of the Extreme E racing series. The technology company will equip all vehicles in the races with tires for the different and very demanding situations.
The 2021 season at a glance:
AlUla, Saudi Arabia - April 3/4
Dakar, Senegal - May 29/30
Kangerlussuaq, Greenland - August 28/29
Santarem, Brazil - October 23/24
Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego - December 11/12