Extreme E has announced the participation of the third Formula 1 world champion. After Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, Jenson Button is also joining the electric off-road racing series starting this year.
Different from Hamilton and Rosberg, Button will join as a driver as well. The team’s name is made up of his initials, and “XE” as an abbreviation for Extreme E. JBXE has at least one prominent driver. Exactly who will drive alongside Button has not yet been decided. JBXE is the tenth team. In addition to Rosberg Xtreme Racing, Abt Cupra XE is also participating from Germany.
Briton Button became world champion for BrawnGP in 2009 which was the team’s only season. Subsequently, BrawnGP was taken over by Mercedes and transformed into today’s racing team. In other words, the team with which Hamilton and Rosberg later became world champions. In 2017, Button contested his last Formula 1 season as a regular driver.
After his Formula 1 career, Button still competed in various racing series and also drove in his first off-road races, which he says was around the same time that he first heard about the Extreme E and followed with great interest. “Whilst we will, of course, compete to win on the track, as a collective we will also work to maximise awareness whilst racing in places that have been damaged or affected by climate change over the years.”
Extreme-E founder Alejandro Agag said he was delighted for Button and his team. “He is one of the most popular drivers in the business, and Extreme E will allow him to live out one of his long-held passions, to compete at the highest level in off-road racing,” Agag says. “Jenson, alongside his peers, will give further weight to our mission to raise awareness of the global climate crisis while doing what we love – racing.”
The first round of the Extreme E is scheduled to take place in Saudi Arabia in April 2021. The electric races are planned to occur in five remote locations – Arctic, desert, rainforest, glacier and coastal – to raise awareness of the environmental issues there. In Extreme E, standard electric cars will be used.
The Odyssey 21, manufactured by Spark Racing Technology, accelerates to 100 km/h in 4.5 seconds and, importantly for off-road use, the car can negotiate gradients of up to 130 per cent. To charge the vehicles at the remote locations, the Extreme E relies on a charging solution from AFC Energy which features a fuel cell and buffer battery to provide electricity for the racing cars.
Each team always consists of one woman and one man, who take turns in the cockpit. At each of the five Extreme E events, the teams drive through an approximately eight-kilometre-long off-road course on which several gates have to be passed – each driver from each team should complete one lap. Each event consists of two race days: on Saturdays, the qualifying races are held, on Sundays the semi-finals and finals take place. By the end of its first season, the race series aims to be completely carbon neutral.
With reporting by Sebastian Schaal.