On Monday it was announced that former Formula One world champion Jenson Button would be kicking off his own Extreme E championship effort from the driver’s seat. This announcement marks the fourth F1 pilot to start an XE team, following Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg, and Carlos Sainz into the new electric off-roader sport. JBXE racing is the tenth team to join the grid for the series’ inaugural season.
With the first race of the Extreme E championship just 10 weeks away, Button has a lot of catching up to do. Luckily the cars will be built to spec for the first season, so he won’t need to develop a car from the ground up, but his team will need to shake it down and dial it in, of course, and the pre-season test has already been completed, putting JBXE on the back foot before the whole shooting match even kicks off.
Over the last few years Button has been getting deeper and deeper into the off-road racing scene, having competed in large scale international events like the Baja 1000 and Mint 400. “And I absolutely loved it!” says Button. Considering the comparatively high profile to low cost-of-entry of a series like Extreme E, compounded by the low time investment needed for the 5 round series, it seems like a no-brainer for Button to make the jump into this.
The JBXE team has not yet announced who its female driver will be for the inaugural season, but if it hopes to immediately be on-par with other teams, it’ll need to pick a good one. There is some serious talent onboard with the series, including former rally and off-road champions. Mr. 2009 F1 champ needs to consider this pick diligently before committing.
The team will run in Button’s now-familiar Brawn GP derived livery, which he has used in non-F1 events since leaving the sport in 2016.
With support from high-profile racers and an easy-to-watch race package, as well as a hearty nod to being eco-friendly and supporting women racers, Extreme E is setting up an opportunity to absolutely knock this thing out of the park. If the actual race product is any good, this could be the new greatest series in the world. I’m cautiously optimistic.