Extreme E came to life with an action packed weekend in the Saudi Arabian desert Nico Rosberg got one through his old Formula 1 teammate Lewis Hamilton Thanks to his RXR team’s dominant win in the hands of Johan Kristoffersson and Molly Taylor. There were some bumps on the way through the breathtaking landscapes of the Al’Ula region, but overall the debut of the new electrically powered off-road series should be celebrated as a complete success.
Hamilton versus Rosberg 2.0
“How funny was that? It was Hamilton versus Rosberg all day out there, ”said Rosberg after his team had surpassed qualifying on Saturday, and then caught a penalty for accelerating in the so-called“ transition zone ”, where the male and female drivers of each team swapped places back in third place. However, the setback did not prevent RXR from taking a comfortable win in the semi-finals on Sunday morning as three-time World Rallycross Champion Kristoffersson beat the rally legends Sebastien Loeb and Carlos Sainz Sr. at the beginning. Loeb and his Hamilton X44 teammate Cristina Gutiérrez split from Sainz and Laia Sanz to join the Rosberg crew in the X final.
Andretti United, Timmy Hansen and Britain’s Catie Munnings joined them after winning the second semifinal known as the “Crazy Race”. The 23-year-old Munnings had impressed on Saturday when she finished her qualifying lap with a flat tire and drove a strong lap in the X-Prix Final by taking time out with veteran Australian rally champion Taylor. Loeb and Gutiérrez battled home in third place with a power steering problem – not the first on the Odyssey 21 on the first weekend of competition.
Throwing up a dust storm
This has always been a learning experience for anyone involved in Extreme E, especially since the teams only had a limited number of pre-season tests. Owner / driver Jenson Button and his JBXE team were always on their backfoot after getting their hands on the Odyssey for the first time last Tuesday. Problems faced by the nine teams included issues with hot batteries, dampers, and steering, while safety concerns piled on the desert track when it was decided to increase the twin-engine SUV’s maximum output from 400 kW (536 hp) to 225 kW (301 hp) from Saturday. to lower afternoon.
Dust was the main concern you would think would have been predictable in a desert. The lack of visibility for the following drivers led to a late change in the race format, with one qualifying and only three instead of four cars per race. The format changes are not necessarily retained for future rounds, but have taken little away from the spectacle.
Abbot Cupra, Ganassi and Veloce in the wars
It’s a shame that poor Claudia Hurtgen is in Abbot Cupra’s contribution. The 49-year-old veteran rolled out of qualifying after hitting a bump at the wrong angle and was left in the dust in Sunday’s shoot-out race by Chip Ganassi Racing’s Kyle LeDuc. LeDuc also crashed alone during the shakedown on Friday.
The British Veloce team was also unlucky. Stephane Sarrazin rolled his odyssey on Saturday and landed on the antennas of his car, which soiled the roll cage and wrote it off. The team had to pull back, which meant W Series champion Jamie Chadwick traveled all the way to Saudi Arabia to complete just a single lap of the 8km desert course.