Cars

Extreme E: “Driver constantly over the limit”

Extreme E, the new racing series with electric SUVs (up to 544 hp) is racing at a military training area in Sardinia this weekend (Sunday from 4 p.m. on ProSieben Maxx). ABMS spoke in advance with founder Alejandro Agag about saving the planet, Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton, German climate problems and comeback queen Jutta Kleinschmidt.

Alejandro Agag, the penultimate Extreme E race of the season will take place in Sardinia this weekend. The racing series wants to put its finger in the wounds of the planet. What is your goal?
Alejandro Agag (51): We want to explain what is happening on earth and what is damaging the planet. Actually, we should be in the Amazon rainforest by now. We are not because of the pandemic. At the same time, we are now feeling climate change on our own doorstep. So it wasn’t difficult to find an alternative location. Here in Sardinia yesterday I was where the forest burned. There I was told that the floor had previously heated up to 70 degrees. That was the only reason why the fires could rage like this. The environmental problems are getting closer. Even in Great Britain and Germany, we have stories to tell about climate change. In this way we want to sensitize motorsport fans to environmental problems. Because everyone has to pull together so that we can save the planet.

Extreme-E founder Alejandro Agag

The final will take place in Great Britain in December: do you really want to have more races in Europe now?
Not really. We want to go far away, to the remote parts of the world that our viewers don’t see every day. But we are now also planning a race in Europe. Because the attention is greater here. And as I said: we have problems on our own doorstep. One example is the recent floods in Germany. We could look for a racing course nearby and show the world how bad water can be.

How satisfied are you basically with your first season?
Incredibly satisfied. Every new race is better than the last. There are still a few problems to be solved – including technical problems on the cars. However, the last feedback from an expert was as follows: You can of course make improvements here and there. But the reason the racing cars break down is the way they are driven. Every car has its limits and these drivers are constantly over the limit. Carlos Sainz (ex-rally world champion and now Extreme E-driver; editor) once said to me: Cars have a memory. They’ll remember when you’ve treated them badly. They don’t always break right away, but usually a few kilometers later.
The championship should also run to your liking.
Exactly: Team Rosberg is fighting against Team Hamilton and Andretti is getting stronger and stronger. McLaren from Formula 1 will also be there next year. We have big names from international motorsport at the top. But I am also particularly pleased with the progress women are making. When we started there were only a few fast ladies. In the meantime, however, everyone has taken a big step forward.

Jutta Kleinschmidt.

From a German point of view, Jutta Kleinschmidt surprised with her comeback – and she was really quick from the start!
It’s correct. It’s fantastic to see Jutta perform like that. As a Dakar winner, she is one of the legends of this sport. Plus a female legend. Right from the start, I wanted these fights to take place: Big names in motorsport against young talents like the Hansens or Kristofferson.

How would you like to see Nico Rosberg or Lewis Hamilton drive in their own cars?
I would of course like that (laughs). But the Extreme E demands a completely different driving style than you are used to. You saw that at Jenson Button, who tried it himself at the beginning. The Loebs and Sainz of this world, the off-road specialists, get by here better than circuit stars.

You have already named possible venues for 2022, but have not decided on five, but only on certain regions. Why?
We are very interested and I want to negotiate with the venues. We are not a charity, we are a business. In South America, I will meet two presidents of countries who want to be there in the coming weeks.

What impact does your racing series have on electromobility on the road?
More and more electric cars are being sold around the world. Formula E made e-cars sexy and showed that e-cars can be fast too. But they don’t jump over stones. The automotive message of Extreme E is: Even someone who lives in the mountains or forests can use electric SUVs. In any case, the images that we send around the world are very powerful and haunting.

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