Two of motorsports biggest names will pair up in the Extreme E series in 2021 when Sebastien Loeb joins Lewis Hamilton’s team behind the wheel of his X44 in Saudi Arabia on March 20-21. Cristina Gutierrez will be the female driver in this series that pairs male and female racers.
Hamilton announced earlier this year that he would field a car in the inaugural season of the five-race series that features electric SUVs in global locations most threatened by climate change. Extreme E has targeted five countries that are endangered by melting ice caps, deforestation, desertification and rising sea levels. Senegal, Greenland, Brazil, and Argentina will also host races.
Loeb established himself as one of the most successful rally racers all time with a record nine World Rally Championships and 79 race wins. His most recent World Rally Championship came in 2012. He also won the World Rallycross Championship three times from 2016-2018.
“Joining team X44 is an opportunity for me to continue to do what I love, which is race, and I’m looking forward to competing in an electric vehicle,” said Loeb in a press release. “I had the chance to drive the car recently and it is incredible. Cristina is a fantastic driver and I can’t wait to partner with her and see what we can achieve together.
“I am really impressed by what Lewis is doing in Formula 1 too, so to be able to work with him on this is an honor.”
Hamilton is the reigning Formula 1 champion, who clinched his record-tying seventh title in the Turkish GP with three races remaining on the 2020 schedule.
Gutierrez made history in the 2017 Dakar Rally by becoming the first Spanish female racer to finish in the car category. She was fifth among first time drivers that year.
“Not only will we get the opportunity to raise awareness of the climate crisis, which is very important to me, but I get to work with two heroes of mine,” Gutierrez added. “Sebastien Loeb is the most incredible rally driver of all time so I’m really happy that I get to partner with him and I hope to learn a lot.”
Loeb and Gutierrez recently tested their car at Donington Park Circuit’s off-road track. The series features a single-design Odyssey 21 electric SUV. Manufacturers have traditionally fielded cars as a way to test and develop the durability of their product and the series is designed to help pave the way for a less carbon-intensive future.
“We have now announced over half of the grid for our inaugural season and it is shaping up to be a fantastic competition with drivers, both male and female, from a mix of ages and motorsport disciplines getting behind the wheel of our electric SUV,” said Alejandro Agag, CEO and founder of Extreme E. “I can’t wait to go racing next year!”
The Extreme E driver lineup has begun to fill out ahead of its inaugural season.
Johan Kristoffersson and Molly Taylor were recently announced as the drivers for Nico Rosberg’s entry. Noted American off-road racer Kyle Leduc and Sara Price were named as drivers for Chip Ganassi’s entry. Andretti Autosport named Catie Munnings and Timmy Hansen as its drivers for 2021.