ROSBERG AND HAMILTON’S TEAMS LOOK STRONG
Nico Rosberg’s Extreme E team looked strong all weekend. With the quickest time in qualifying and a subsequent time penalty, the team cruised to victory for the inaugural race.
Thanks to an insane start from Johan Kristoffersson, and a stunning second lap from Molly Taylor, the team became the first-ever Extreme E winners. As the name would suggest, the team is run and owned by 2016 F1 World Champion Nico Rosberg, who was present all weekend.
“We all came in here not knowing what to expect,” Rosberg X Racing’s Molly Taylor said post-race.
“We’ve been the fastest in every heat, semi and final. Thanks to Johan. That first lap was insane! It’s just a dream come true all around.”
Elsewhere in the desert, Lewis Hamilton’s X44 Team had a strong start qualifying for the finale. Unfortunately, drivers – and – confirmed after the race that the car had suffered a power steering failure just moments into the final race.
The highly experienced duo struggled with no power steering and made manoeuvring the car in the course conditions extremely challenging. Both were happy with a third-place finish and with a decent points haul.
As we advance, it could be that we have another Rosberg vs Hamilton on our hands.
CONDITIONS DON’T FAVOUR CLOSE RACING
If you’re racing heavy SUVs in a desert, chances are it’s going to be sandy. However, conditions over the Desert X-Prix became so bad it ended up influencing the time gaps between cars as visibility became so poor.
After an intense battle down to the first corner, we then witnessed teams having to hold off from their competitors to see where they’re going. From numerous onboards over the racing on Sunday, conditions seemed totally impossible. With massive dunes and rocks scattered throughout the course, being able to see where you’re going is quite a necessary requirement.
Unfortunately for the cars of Abt Motorsport and Chip Ganassi Racing, visibility caused a huge shunt during Sunday’s ‘Crazy Race’ and caused immediate red flags.
Although Extreme E’s concept has enormous potential, racing in these unusual locations does throw up problems. The introduction of time trials, or stages as seen in the World Rally Championship, could be a better solution but would this complicate the race format further?
RACE FORMAT MIGHT NEED CHANGING
For many fans, Saturday’s actions with qualifying provided the best entertainment. One car on track, pushing it to the limits around the challenging course for the best time.
Going forward, could the racing format become more of a time trial than a three-car race?
“Others said to do the race. I had to make a call. The 20 or 30 seconds we saw after the start were motorsport gold.”
Agag also explained that he believed Kristoffersson would have been happier having won a race like we witnessed, rather than a time trial scenario.
However, questions need to be asked internally if the elation of a winning driver has higher priority over that of fair competition and viewer enjoyment. Although most of us loved the Extreme E racing, it seems inevitable track conditions for future races could create similar racing conditions.
Away from the racing spectacle, there was also confusion about the actual racing schedule. From two qualifying sessions, a semi-final, Crazy Race, Shoot Out and another finale on top, for some fans it’s unnecessarily complicated.
THE ODYSSEY 21 WAS DEFINITELY CRASH TESTED
With several big incidents over the weekend’s racing, it’s good to know that the Extreme E cars’ safety features are fit for purpose.
With Stephane Sarrazin’s crash in qualifying ruling the Veloce team out of action for the rest of the weekend, plus the horror smash from Claudia Hurtgen in her Abt Motorsport vehicle on the same day, it proved Extreme E can be dangerous.
Fortunately, the cars created by Spark Racing Technology were able to withstand the tough terrain of the desert and big crashes on track.
A BRILLIANT ALL-ROUND START
Although there are things to take away from the first race, this was always to be expected. Being able to debut a championship during the middle of a global pandemic is no easy feat, and Extreme E did a stunning job considering all obstacles in their way.
Broadcasting from the middle of a desert is an achievement in itself and was complimented thanks to Jennie Gow and Andrew Coley’s strong commentary line-up. Sam Bird and Karun Chandhok also made excellent additions over the weekend.
The race weekend was filled with drama, close battles and all with a brilliant selection of driver pairings.
It’s a promising start for this series that is only in its infancy.