Extreme E founder and CEO Alejandro Agag says that there is a massive amount of excitement from motorsports fans around the world about the launch of the new, all-electric SUV racing series which will host its inaugural event in Saudi Arabia next weekend.
Paddock Eye caught up with Agag on Monday as preparations continue for the first Xprix.
The world is facing unprecedented times as a result of the challenging relating to COVID-19, how has this affected the preparations for the inaugural season of Extreme E?
“We didn’t know there was going to be Covid obviously when we started Extreme E but going to the Arctic and the Amazon, we don’t expect people to show up anyway. That side of it is unaffected.
“It has made everything harder due to the travel restrictions of course; we haven’t been able to complete as many site visits as we would have liked, but all in all the challenges haven’t stopped us. In 2020, we were in the preparation phase in terms of signing teams and partners and we were lucky that we could really carry on during COVID.
“Hopefully the world is on a road to recovery from COVID this year, which is great news indeed. It would have been an easy decision to delay the series given the circumstances but this was never an option in our eyes. Safety standards will be high and we need to make sure everyone is safe, but there is no cure for the climate crisis unfortunately and we can’t wait around, we need to act, now.”
Given the talented field of drivers who will be involved in the series, what are the expectations for the opening event of the season?
“Extreme is a great concept so I’m not surprised by the calibre of people getting involved but I wasn’t sure they would join for Season 1. Of course, I am delighted that they have, the series has a truly stellar line-up including three Formula 1 World Champion team owners and top drivers from multi-discipline racing, from off-road to track including phenomenal female talent, all looking to use their platform for good. We couldn’t be happier to have them all on board and can’t wait to see what happens in the first race in Saudi Arabia.”
In terms of logistics with COVID-19, how difficult has it been to get equipment and personnel to Saudi Arabia?
“It has made everything harder, for sure but our ship, the St. Helena has arrived in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia and our cargo has been unloaded, and we have teams on the ground already, with more to follow.
“Our operations and events team have faced additional challenges to what was already a tough event to create but they have responded incredibly well and overcome all obstacles. Everyone has been working so hard on this project and hopefully we will see that all pay off very soon. To pull of a new series under these circumstances is totally unprecedented.”
The Odyssey 21’s arrived in Saudi Arabia on Sunday, will teams be able to test in the build-up to the event?
“There will be a shakedown opportunity for teams on Friday 2 April.”
How excited have you been with the reaction to Extreme E given the high-profile names who are involved in the series?
“Already we feel like there is a massive amount of excitement from motorsport fans about Extreme E, you just have to look at our social media.
“Having big names like Lewis Hamilton and Sebastien Loeb by our side with Extreme E is huge, it has bought a massive spotlight to the championship, which is exactly our goal.
“In the case of Lewis, he is an incredible driver and loves motorsport, but also has a true care for our environment as well as equality and diversity. The commitment from him and others such as Jenson Button, Nico Rosberg, Carlos Sainz, also demonstrates how seriously Extreme E is being taken by the motorsport community.”