Why Extreme E will be a motorsport mainstay in 2022

Why Extreme E will be a motorsport mainstay in 2022

“The legacy programmes make a massive impact in each location we go to,” insists Russell. “We helped plant a million mangroves and build facilities from upcycled plastic in Senegal; we worked with Unicef to educate every schoolchild in Greenland on the perils of climate change.”

Besides, Extreme E is a work in progress. It certainly isn’t carbon-neutral motorsport yet. The best example is the St Helena. The former Royal Mail ship that carries Extreme E’s freight around the world is powered by two massive diesel engines that each produce more than 3500bhp. They have been converted to run on more economical, low-sulphur diesel, but they still burn an eye-watering 10 tonnes of fuel per day.

Series bosses don’t try to hide that, though (witness the words ‘NOT ELECTRIC… YET’ painted on the side of the St Helena), and it’s still better than alternative ways of transporting such a high volume of freight, such as flying.

It’s the same story in the paddock. The cars draw electricity from an innovative system by AFC Energy that uses solar power and water to generate hydrogen that fuels a generator, effectively providing a green off-grid energy source.

The power supply to the paddock itself is another example of work in progress. It currently uses a series of generators fuelled by a vegetable- oil-based diesel replacement. The plan is to phase in the use of more green hydrogen to that power supply for this year and potentially to use temporary wind turbines.

Such small steps to sustainability are similar to those being made more widely in the car industry. And that’s key to Extreme E’s future: the issues that it has been addressing are truly relevant to the current climate. That gives the series a good base to work from: the next step is proving how it can use a philosophy of sustainability to make itself sustainable.

Who to look out for in 2022

The 2022 Extreme E grid was still taking shape at the time of writing, but the big news on the team side is the arrival of Formula 1 squad McLaren, which will field the strong pairing of Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour for its first season.