Extreme E rolls onto its fourth stop this weekend in Sardinia, marking the first time the series has ventured into Europe for a race event.
The course that will await the series’ nine teams is a unique challenge, unlike anything they would have tackled in Saudi Arabia, Senegal, or Greenland previously.
“I personally think that this will be a very tricky weekend for everybody,” says Extreme E reserve driver Tamara Molinaro, who guided DirtFish around the track that she and colleague Timo Scheider have called home for the last week or so.
“The track is something that we’ve never seen before, it’s very different compared to the other ones, especially trying to remember every single bump on the track is super-difficult, which I think will be key to being successful this weekend.
“There are some really sketchy places with some bumps that if you take flat, you’ll probably end up on the roof. It’s quite challenging.”
The first three courses this season have been characterized by dramatic climbs and drops, complemented by striking scenery. While Sardinia is no less aesthetic, mastering the relative subtleties of the landscape will be critical to achieving a good result, says Molinaro.
“In Greenland you at least had some references, you would see different parts of the landscape, but here it’s basically everything looking the same so a lot of bushes, a lot of plain gravel which makes it really difficult to even try to understand where the bumps are because sometimes you just look outside the windscreen and you just see everything’s the same,” she explains.
“Of course, you have some flying crests and you don’t see what’s behind it but it’s more flat compared to Greenland,” she adds.
“Even if you see a picture from the top, obviously you go up and down a bit but it’s not like massive hills and downhills.
“There are no drops, let’s say. It’s a bit more flat compared to the other ones but full of bumps and compressions, which makes it probably more difficult than any other.”
Molinaro also expects the track to lend itself to driver creativity, saying “there are a lot of things you can invent here”.
“What will make the difference is how much you are willing to risk because here it’s one of those places where trying to get to the finish is not about pure speed, it’s also about being clever,” she says. “It’s not just about driving skills, it’s also about a bit of strategy as well.
“Overtaking is all about risk. There are some opportunities to overtake; some places where you can cut, but you maybe take a bigger risk because there’s a bigger bump on the inside and it’s a little bit flatter on the outside.
“And we have a narrow part, it’s basically just a single track where nobody can overtake – unless somebody sees something we didn’t see and does something crazy, like for example the overtake of Sébastien Loeb in Greenland where he overtook where the lake was. Nobody thought that was an overtaking place but obviously he did!”
The track is surely going to be a hit – Molinaro describing it as “a good combination” of fast and slow, narrow and wide, and likely with some time in the air to boot.
What’s more, the Sardinia course will feature not one but two water splashes. That will not only provide dramatic visuals, but should also dispel myths about electric cars not being able to handle a bit of drizzle.
For the motorsport purists who see Sardinia as more of a rallying destination, there’ll be some familiarity for them too.
“I’ve been lucky because this year I’ve done two rallies in Sardinia so that I know a lot about the area,” says Molinaro.
“[For] the people that are used to seeing the World Rally Championship in Sardinia, I have here in front of me a corner that could look like something you’ve seen in the WRC with a lot of green bushes and this kind of sandy gravel.
“It could be something a bit more rally-looking compared to all the other events that we’ve seen. Senegal or Greenland and Saudi had nothing to do with ‘our’ rally, but this one is a little bit more alike.”