Starting with the 2022 season, McLaren Racing will be part of the Extreme E paddock. It’s a great nab for the off-road electric SUV series, since it shows this first-season interest is no fluke.
Until now, almost all Extreme E teams have been fielded by established race teams or drivers like Formula One’s Lewis Hamilton or Andretti Autosport. That’s not a massive shock for a first-season series, but it’s great to see McLaren Racing heading into the fold.
“From the moment Extreme E was announced we have been following the progress of the series closely,” McLaren CEO Zak Brown said in a press conference. “Our attention was immediately drawn by the innovative format of this motorsport platform, in particular the ability it gives us to accelerate and boost our own overarching sustainability agenda, which shares the same priorities of decarbonization, waste reduction, diversity and equality.
“At the same time, it will enable us to reach a new audience with an innovative race format, connect with a new generation of fans through content served across a variety of channels and provide partners with a purpose-led competition platform to align with and share in a positive, powerful narrative.”
Brown later noted that his team will be competing against familiar names from the F1 and IndyCar paddocks, which makes the series’ draw all the greater for McLaren. You’re probably not going to see a McLaren beat Hamilton in F1, but it could very well happen in Extreme E.
Alejandro Agag, founder and CEO of Extreme E, summed it up best when he said, “To have McLaren on board, which symbolizes the highest level of racing and automotive innovation, is a huge endorsement that what we have delivered in just our first two races of Season 1 has already created real impact in motorsport.”
Extreme E’s trajectory seems a bit like that of its sister series, Formula E. It took a few seasons for FE to get off the ground before big-name manufacturers like Porsche and Mercedes began entering teams in the series. Extreme E seems to have the benefit of familiar names and faces, which is likely why we’re seeing big-name entries in the second season.
That said, its unconventional nature has already resulted in some problems. The final two races of the season in Brazil and Argentina have been cancelled for season one due to South America's lingering issues with COVID-19, which is a big blow for a series that only scheduled five races. Other options are being considered, such as an event in Scotland, but nothing is currently confirmed.