Extreme E’s teams and drivers got their first taste of full-power last week during the only official pre-season test of the 2021 season. Eight of the series’ nine teams arrived to Aragon circuit in Spain to run around two different dirt track layouts. The full 550 horsepower electric Odyssey 21 racers were wrung out to the full extent by a slew of international talent.
Some teams had done a bit of shakedown on an individual basis prior to this, but the series would only let them run at a reduced power output to prevent any one team from developing a serious advantage. This was the first, and last, time that teams will get a chance to run at full bore until the series’ first race, the Desert XPrix in Saudi Arabia in March.
Curiously, the Formula E-dominating Techeetah team was absent from the test. In fact, the black and gold team has yet to so much as announce its two-driver lineup or show off its finished car yet, despite the first race being just a couple of months out. Even worse, the team’s twitter account has been radio silent since June. Maybe Techeetah will be following QEV and HWA in announcing that it just won’t be able to join the series in 2021? I hope not. Extreme E claims that nine cars have been delivered to nine teams, but only eight were present at the test.
The test was a cold and foggy one, but these cars, drivers, and teams will be fighting a lot worse conditions than this considering the 2021 schedule brings them to the heat of the middle east desert, plus glaciers in Tierra del Fuego, the arctic cold of Greenland, and a hot time in the Amazon. The teams managed to deal with a frigid Spain morning, and the cars allegedly performed perfectly reliably not breaking even one part during the two-day test.
Newly minted Ferrari F1 ace Carlos Sainz, Jr. was at the test to cheer on his rally legend father in the ACCIONA | Sainz XE team. Interestingly, it was unveiled during that test that Sainz the younger is a major investor in the team his father drives for. This makes his the third team financially backed by a recent F1 driver (following Rosberg XE and Lewis Hamilton’s X44 team).
Carlos Sainz Jr said: “I kind of expected my father to want to be involved in Extreme E and I saw him taking an interest, so we’ve been very busy the last three to four months with the project. It’s a whole new challenge and I see that they are working very hard to make the team as competitive as possible. The climate message behind Extreme E is really important as we need to make people more conscious of what’s going on in the world, while still producing a show and good racing.”
From the test, each car will go back to its respective team workshop for final preparation. From there, the cars will be loaded onto Extreme E’s “floating centerpiece” the St. Helena cargo ship in mid-February. The cars will travel the world from race to race aboard the ship and any setup or developmental changes will need to be done during the lead up to each of 2021’s five races.
While the series hasn’t released any lap times or any indication of how each driver or team placed during the test, it’s pretty obvious which teams will be best financed and have the best drivers. Then again, it’s rally raid, anything can, and often does, happen. I’m really looking forward to the Extreme E season kicking off next year. This is gonna be good.