McLaren has become the latest racing team to commit to Extreme E and will enter the all-electric off-road series in 2022.
Extreme E aims to use racing to promote sustainability and diversity, and is currently tackling its inaugural season. Having so far held events in Saudi Arabia and Senegal, there are three races to follow in Greenland in August and then Brazil and Argentina later this year. While McLaren had previously announced it was evaluating entries into Formula E and the World Endurance Championship, an entry into Extreme E comes as a slight surprise, with McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown saying it will help the company accelerate its own sustainability mission.
“From the moment Extreme E was announced we have been following the progress of the series closely,” Brown said. “Our attention was immediately drawn by the innovative format of this motorsport platform, in particular the ability it gives us to accelerate and boost our own overarching sustainability agenda, which shares the same priorities of decarbonization, waste reduction, diversity and equality.
“At the same time, it will enable us to reach a new audience with an innovative race format, connect with a new generation of fans through content served across a variety of channels and provide partners with a purpose-led competition platform to align with and share in a positive, powerful narrative.”
McLaren Racing has been a leader in electric motorsport from the outset, supplying the battery powertrain to the FIA Formula E Championship for the Gen 1 and Gen 2 seasons, employing the same technology pioneered in the McLaren P1 hypercar.
“McLaren has always been at the forefront and never afraid to push new boundaries,” noted Brown. “This new venture is true to our roots of participating in a variety of categories, innovation and bravery. Extreme E is paving new ground in motorsport as a force for good in confronting some of the biggest challenges facing our world today and in the future.
“While Formula 1 will always remain at the center of our world, like IndyCar and eSports, our entry into Extreme E is additive to the McLaren Racing franchise and will complement and help support all our programs. We will be competing against big names we’re very familiar with from F1 and IndyCar but, like all series we compete in, the competition objective is clear: we are there to win.”
“Extreme E’s mission is to use sport to build awareness and accelerate clean technology innovations that benefit the mobility industry and beyond. To have McLaren on board, which symbolizes the highest level of racing and automotive innovation, is a huge endorsement that what we have delivered in just our first two races of Season 1 has already created real impact in motorsport,” said Extreme E founder and CEO Alejandro Agag (pictured at right above, with Brown).
McLaren will operate its team — limited by the rules to four mechanics and one engineer at each event — using existing personnel from outside its F1 program, and the entry does not end interest in future Formula E or WEC projects, but needed confirming earlier due to a limit on the number of teams that can take part.
“All the different racing series have different attributes, different reasons and rationale as to why they may or may not fit inside the McLaren Racing portfolio. We haven’t taken a decision yet on those other series. Why Extreme E? I believe the franchise will be sold out quickly, whereas when you get into something like WEC there is no pressure to be one of X amount of teams, so we felt with the success of the season we didn’t have the luxury of maybe waiting another six months.
“Also, the importance of sustainability and diversity to McLaren Racing, and being able to accelerate that program. And demand from our partners, and our desire to understand the technologies and learn from that. So it was for all those reasons that we took the decision to enter Extreme E while we continue to evaluate these other racing opportunities.”
McLaren will be racing against the Andretti United Extreme E team that Brown is a co-owner of, as well as other F1-linked outfits in the form of Lewis Hamilton’s X44, Jenson Button’s JBXE and Nico Rosberg’s Rosberg X Racing.