A number of high profile drivers from seemingly every walk of motorsport life dipped their toes into the Extreme E pool recently in the series’ first six-day open test. Drivers from sports cars, Formula One, Formula E, and World Rally were on hand to test the new Spark Technologies Odyssey 21 E-SUV chassis and motor setup. The list of drivers was largely kept quiet, but we know Mercedes F1 number two Valtteri Bottas was among them.
Extreme E wouldn’t release the full list of drivers involved in the test, but Bottas posted photos from the test on social media, making that information public, obviously. XE listed Bottas as on of a “few major-profile drivers who came and tested privately and therefore can’t be named” with reports indicating some WRC and FIA World RallyX drivers took part.
Among the drivers we do know participated were series co-founder/team owner and former Formula E champion Jean-Eric Vergne, as well as double-amputee Billy Monger, and confirmed Andretti/United Autosport driver Timmy Hansen.
Former Toro Rosso F1 ace JEV, said: “I was really pleased with the power, it’s totally impressive. It is a totally different world to what I’m used to. I’ve never driven sideways before and here you have to slide, so it’s something I’m discovering and I’m really enjoying it.
“For the first few laps, I had to almost re-learn the way I drive the car as it’s so different to the experience in a single seater. Rather humbling for me at first but I evaluated, took advice and saw progress really quickly, which felt good.
The series is ramping up to its launch and Spark promises to deliver eight of these Odyssey 21s, one to each of the eight Extreme E teams currently signed up, by the end of October.
Vergne hasn’t yet confirmed that he’ll be his team’s male representative driver, saying that he’d love to drive for Veloce Racing, but that he wants to pick the driver who is best for the job.
As for Mercedes driver Bottas, he’s driven a number of things that go fast and sideways in the dirt and snow. As a Finn, obviously he has plenty of experience racing on ice, and he’s tested a number of WRC and rallycross machines, including a victory in last year’s Rallycircuit Cote d’Azur event, driving a Citroen.
The Extreme E season is scheduled to begin early next year, and the series will conduct a mock-race test event in December with all of the teams and drivers.
In case you couldn’t tell, I’m very excited for this series, and look forward to watching it intently. This is going to be awesome.