It may feel like just a minute since the inaugural season of Extreme E wrapped up, but the second album is already about to be recorded.
A mere nine weeks after the first campaign concluded in Dorset in the UK, season two of Extreme E will kick-off in Neom, Saudi Arabia this weekend. So let’s take a look at the season ahead, highlighting the biggest changes that we’ll see this year:
The country hosting race one might be the same, but XE is hopping a touch over 300 miles northwest from Al-‘Ula to Neom this time around.
Neom, of course, is set to be an EPCOT-like ‘city of tomorrow’ (it’s first phase will be completed by 2025), powered entirely by renewable energy, making it the perfect location for Extreme E on paper – we’re just crossing our fingers that there won’t be a recurrence of the dust issues that plagued last year’s curtain raiser.
Aside from Saudi Arabia, there’s a whole host of other calendar changes. The 2021 schedule was a bit of a moving target thanks to COVID, with three of the planned five locations scrapped, and a whole host of other changes happening over the course of the year.
This time such contingencies have been built in place, with the third round of five currently set to take place in Scotland – a long-rumored Extreme E host – or Senegal, which hosted round two of 2021. Either side of that there’ll be rounds in Sardinia (one of 2021’s backup venues) and Chile, with Uruguay joining for the closer in November.
February 19-20: Desert X-Prix – Neom, Saudi Arabia
May 7-8: Island X-Prix – Sardinia, Italy
July 9-10: – Ocean X-Prix – Scotland or Senegal
September 10-11: Copper X-Prix – Antofagasta, Chile
November 26-27: Energy X-Prix – Punta del Este, Uruguay
Drivers and teams
There’s been a handful of driver changes this season too, with four teams making a switch and a new squad joining entirely.
Andretti United (Timmy Hansen and Catie Munnings), Team X44 (Sébastien Loeb and Cristina Gutiérrez), Acciona Sainz (Carlos Sainz and Laia Sanz), and Chip Ganassi Racing (Kyle LeDuc and Sara Price) will all stick with their season one driver pairings.
But when it comes to those making changes, Veloce has definitely been the busiest team in the off-season – helped in-part by the fact it had more drivers than any other team to begin with – with three departures, one arrival, and a promotion.
Lance Woolridge moves up to a full-season ride from his role as male reserve after impressing in last year’s season finale.
He’ll be joined by Christine GZ who moves over from Xite Energy Racing, while Emma Gilmour – Woolridge’s female counterpart on the subs’ bench last year – has left for McLaren. Meanwhile the team’s primary driver lineup from last year of Stéphane Sarrazin and Jamie Chadwick have departed Extreme E entirely.
Speaking of McLaren, Gilmour will be joined by American off-road racing legend Tanner Foust in the ultimate throwback to the team’s Can-Am days.
Taking GZ’s spot at Xite Energy Racing meanwhile will be emerging rallycross talent Klara Andersson, who joins Nitro Rallycross racer Oliver Bennett. However, a positive COVID test for Andersson means she will be replaced in Saudi Arabia by the series’ official reserve driver, Tamara Molinaro.
Abt Cupra has traded Mattias Ekström for rallying and Dakar ace Nasser Al-Attiyah. He joins Jutta Kleinschmidt in what looks to be one of the strongest driver lineups in the field.
Cupra will also be one of two teams to run custom bodywork this year, with its car taking inspiration from the upcoming Tavascan electric SUV coupe. Ganssi will continue to represent the GMC Hummer EV through its collaboration with General Motors.
But perhaps the biggest change of all is the news that Molly Taylor will not be returning to Rosberg X Racing in 2022. Taylor was one of last year’s biggest stars and formed a bulletproof partnership with Johan Kristoffersson to secure the inaugural title with three event wins from five starts.
In her shock absence, Taylor has been replaced by 2021 JBXE driver Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky, while Kristoffersson remains to attempt to retain his title in the now all-Swedish lineup.
Taylor instead has secured an 11th hour deal to race for JBXE for the season opener. Her future in the series beyond that still up in the air.
The Continental CrossContact tires used by all Extreme E teams have been redesigned for season two, with an all-new tread and carcass compound.
That compound is made up of one third sustainable materials, combining siica from the ashes of rice husks with a processed yarn made from recycled plastic bottles (up to 60 per tire).
The versatile boots will be used throughout the season, whether racing on sand, mud, gravel, ice, or snow.
The weekend format has been tweaked for 2022 to bring more racing at the expense of the single car qualifying runs that started weekends last year.
Now two five-car races will begin proceedings, with a second round of heats following, with the grid lineup for those decided by the results of the first.
From there, the grids for the semifinals and ‘crazy race’ last chance qualifier will be determined. The semi, crazy race, and final format from the end of 2021 will remain. The top two teams along with the crazy race winner will make up the final grid.
Last year the race format changed from round-to-round as the series got to grips with itself, but don’t expect such evolutions this year.
“I think we learned a lot this year,” Extreme E race director Scot Elkins told DirtFish at the 2021 season finale. “Obviously you go from one event to the next or one session to the next and obviously the regulations had to have a lot of flexibility in them to enable us to do what we did.
“It was fully in the regulations to allow us to change what we had to change in Saudi because of the conditions.
“So I think going into season two, we learned a lot and so I think with that knowledge, [it] makes it easier to not have to change as many things next year.”