Extreme E is GO!

Friday 02 April 2021

Extreme E’s very first race weekend, the Desert X Prix, kicks off in AlUla, Saudi Arabia today, and the field of teams and drivers are all set for an epic adventure ahead. Several British drivers and teams will feature in the first season. Here is the lowdown ahead of the first round – ‘Star Wars pod racing meets Dakar Rally’

Nine teams will compete wheel-to-wheel in an innovative format likened to ‘Star Wars pod racing meets Dakar Rally’. Designed to put driver performance firmly in focus, Extreme E X Prix weekends feature the precision and pressure of time trial qualifications on Saturday 3 April, and short, sharp wheel-to-wheel racing action on Sunday 4 April, where skills will be tested to the limits and races will come right down to the wire.

Every race will incorporate two laps over a total distance of approximately 18 kilometres. In a motorsport world-first, teams will field one male and one female driver, promoting gender equality and a level playing field amongst competitors. The teams will determine which driver goes first to best suit their strategy and driver order selections are made confidentially, with competitors kept in the dark as to other teams’ choices until the last possible moment. Contests between males and females will therefore be ensured.

Saturday 3 April

Desert X Prix Qualifying consists of two rounds of time trials. The team starting order is decided by a draw. All races feature two laps with the incorporated driver ‘Switch’ feature.

Sunday 4 April

Desert X Prix Finals Day features a series of three car races.

  • The teams will be listed 1st to 9th place based on the total combined time of each team’s two Qualifying runs.
  • The top three teams go into the Semi-Final, where the the top two finishers claim spots in the Desert X Prix Final.
  • The middle three teams (4th, 5th, 6th) go through to The Crazy Race – where only the top finisher progresses to Desert X Prix Final.
  • The bottom three teams (7th, 8th and 9th) head to the Shoot Out.

The Desert X Prix Final features the two winners from the Semi-Final and the Winner of the Crazy Race.

The teams will be represented in the cockpit by some of the world’s biggest names in motorsport as follows: Bold denotes British team/driver

  • ABT CUPRA XE – #125 – Mattias Ekström / Claudia Hürtgen
  • ACCIONA | Sainz XE Team – #55 – Carlos Sainz / Laia Sanz
  • Andretti United – #23 – Timmy Hansen / Catie Munnings
  • Segi TV Chip Ganassi Racing – #99 – Kyle LeDuc / Sara Price
  • Hispano Suiza XITE Energy Team – #42 – Oliver Bennett / Christine Giampaoli
  • JBXE – #22 – Jenson Button / Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky
  • Rosberg X Racing – #6 – Johan Kristoffersson / Molly Taylor
  • Veloce Racing – #5 – Stéphane Sarrazin / Jamie Chadwick
  • X44 – #44 – Sébastien Loeb / Cristina Gutiérrez

Each of the teams’ two drivers – one male and one female – will complete a lap before the ‘Switch’, and teams can choose which driver goes first. The course itself measures 18 kilometres and is centred around three canyons in the vast desert which surrounds AlUla.

The Car – ODYSSEY 21

Capable of reaching 100km/h from a standing start in just 4.5 seconds, at gradients of up to 130 per cent, the ODYSSEY 21 has been built and engineered by Spark Racing Technology. Williams Advanced Engineering has created the all-important battery, with the chassis constructed by Chassis Technology Supplier CBMM | Niobium and the tyres provided by the championship’s Founding Partner, Continental.

Hydrogen Fuel Cell Charging

In a world-first, each car will be charged using zero-emission energy via hydrogen fuel cell technology created in collaboration with AFC Energy. The system offers a completely sustainable fuel production process, using water and sun to generate hydrogen power which will then be used to charge all the ODYSSEY 21 electric SUVs off the grid. Not only will this process emit zero greenhouse emissions, but its only by-product will be water, which will be utilised elsewhere on-site.

How to Watch

You can follow the shakedown and qualifications through Extreme E’s official website – www.extreme-e.com and social channels.

The finals will be shown on global broadcasters including  ITV, Sky Sports, BBC and BT Sport in the UK.

Expert voices behind the mic

Lead commentators Jennie Gow and Andrew Coley will be based out of a London studio, providing remote commentary for every X Prix, along with on the ground reporter Layla-Anna Lee. For the Desert X Prix, the pair will be joined by special guest driver analysts Karun Chandhok and Sam Bird, both well-known in the motorsport world. The former competed in Formula One and Formula E, while the latter is a current Formula E driver for Jaguar Racing and previously contested GP2 and the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC).


Fans can get involved too via GridPlay, which puts the starting line-up for the Desert X Prix Final in their hands. From 31 March until 60 minutes after the the start of the Race on Sunday 4 April, fans will be able to vote twice per day via the Extreme E website and on Twitter using #GridPlay #DriverName for their favourite driver, with the votes added together to complete the team standings.

The teams that don’t reach the concluding race have an important role to play too, in gifting their votes to a team of their choice, so every vote really does count. And the team with the most votes will then be able to select its starting position for the Desert X Prix Final.

Desertification Issue

The deserts of Saudi Arabia were chosen to highlight a number of environmental issues – increasing temperatures, more frequent and longer periods of drought, deforestation and desertification – which are all in part instigated by human behaviour and our carbon-intensive lifestyle.

Over the next few decades, the average water availability in some regions is projected to decrease by 10-30 per cent, meaning 2.4 billion people across the world will be living in areas subject to periods of intense water scarcity, displacing as many as 700 million people. Challenges exacerbated by climate change in the desert include water scarcity and potentially hundreds of millions of climate refugees.

Alejandro Agag, Founder and CEO of Extreme E said: “The time has come to go racing and I can’t explain how proud and excited I am. A huge amount of hard work under unprecedented circumstances has gone on behind the scenes to get this revolutionary racing series together and I can’t wait to see some of the biggest names in motorsport go head-to-head in just a few days.

“But Extreme E isn’t just a race for a trophy, it is about something much bigger, the race for our planet is real and there is no finish line in sight. Through the power of sport, we look forward to highlighting some of the environmental challenges the world is facing, and the solutions we can all take.”


Friday 2 April
17:00-17:20: Shakedown

Saturday 3 April
09:00 – 10:30: Qualifying 1
14:00 – 15:30: Qualifying 2

Sunday 4 April
09:00 – 10:30: Semi-Finals
13:00 – 15:00: Finals

All times local.