Jamie Chadwick, Extreme E driver (Veloce Racing)
Extreme E is a world first and challenges the gendered world of motorsport
March 02, 2021
Ready for a world first in motorsport? Welcome to the progressive and inclusive world of Extreme E.
Thanks to the vision of London-based Spanish businessman and former politician, Alejandro Agag, a brand new electric off-road championship has been launched that completely smashes preconceptions around gender divides in motorsport.
Everything about Extreme E has been designed with the goal of promoting diversity and equality being paramount within the sport no two-person team can be single gender. Additionally, Extreme E's sustainability focus highlights the increasing threat of climate change and the ever-growing pressure on humanity to deliver technological breakthroughs that allow us to have a less extreme impact on the natural world around us.
Each mixed gender team will race in identical 550-bhp electric SUV’s, ensuring a completely level playing field amongst competitors. Extreme E sees top female drivers such as 2019 W Series winner Jamie Chadwick, Off-Road Truck Champion and X Games Medallist, Sara Price and Australian Rally Champion, Molly Taylor, going head-to-head with some of motorsport’s biggest names, including F1 Champion, Jenson Button and WRC legend, Sébastien Loeb – in a ‘Star Wars pod racing meets Dakar Rally’-style format. Extreme E will be purposely travelling to some of the areas in the world that, while remote, are being impacted by humanity's effects on the environment. It'll take in frozen regions, from the arctic to the glaciers of Patagonia, the Amazon rainforest, the desert of Saudi Arabia, and the Ocean region around the rally epicentre of Dakar, Senegal.
The Extreme E teams will determine which driver goes first to best suit their strategy. Driver order selections are made confidentially, with competitors kept in the dark as to other teams’ choices until the cars reach the start-line. This guarantees that genders will compete in thrilling head-to-heads.
A world-first in motor racing
Extreme E Founder and CEO, Alejandro Agag
Extreme E Founder and CEO, Alejandro Agag explains: “This is a world-first in motor racing. We are ensuring with our sporting format that both genders will be able to compete with the same tools at their disposal at every event on the calendar. They (the teams) have freedom of strategy; they can put the man first or the woman first. We are striving for equality, and this sporting format is the truest reflection of that goal. Everybody will race together, and the most effective combination of drivers, team, engineers, and car will rise to the top, therefore the only differentiation will be raw talent and ability.”
In an interview with EuroNews, Alejandro says, "Equality is one of the big causes of this century. And I think that parity between men and women, there's a lot of work still to be done there. And especially in motorsport. My world is motorsport. I work on the things I do. I cannot (make changes) in the fashion world or the pharmaceutical industry. I do motorsport. So I try to bring equality into motorsport."
Alejandro, the brains behind global electric circuit racing series Formula E, took inspiration for the mixed gender format by watching tennis icon Martina Navratilova play mixed doubles after she retired from the women’s singles game. “I’m a very big fan of the mixed doubles in tennis. I used to follow Martina when she was continuing her career in this genre and thought, why not in motorsport. Let’s do this and make both members of the team equally decisive for victory," he comments.
Engaging women in a sport that has much to offer
Jamie Chadwick, Extreme E driver (Veloce Racing)
Williams F1 development driver, W Series Champion, and now female half of Extreme E team pairing, Veloce Racing, Jamie Chadwick says: "It's huge. It's amazing what Extreme E have done with the format they have chosen. It's exciting for me because it gives me this opportunity - it's the same for everyone; 100% fair.”
Michèle Mouton, president of FIA Women in Motorsport Commission who knows only too well the challenges of competing at World Championship level from her rallying days in the 1980’s – is unsurprisingly fully supportive of Extreme E’s sporting format. “Extreme E is a great opportunity for women and men to team up, compete together and against each other with the same material. For many years we (FIA) have been striving for equality within our sport and Alejandro (Agag) and his team continue to support this philosophy and have taken concrete action that help highlight the ability of female racers.”
Louise Goodman, TV motorsport reporter and Girls on Track UK ambassador disagrees. “Positive discrimination isn’t always universally applauded but sometimes it takes steps like this to shift perceptions, increase visibility and encourage more women towards a sport that has so much to offer.”
Diversity and inclusion fuel future growth of motorsport
Although aiming to address greater diversity within the motorsport industry is not new, change does not happen overnight. Initiatives such as ‘FIA Women in Motorsport’ and ‘Girls on Track’ have for many years focused efforts on attracting more females into the sport, not just behind the wheel but also in the myriad of positions available such as engineering, logistics, mechanics, and media.
To shine a spotlight on these vital roles within Extreme E – many of them held by women – a series of programmes will be broadcast alongside the racing action, will tell the stories of the championship and provide a fascinating insider view of who and what it takes to bring a global motorsport series to fruition.
BBC Radio 5 live reporter and now a member of Extreme E’s broadcast team, Jennie Gow says: “Addressing the big issues as Extreme E was key to my decision to move out of my comfort zone with presenting and pit reporting and step into the world of commentary. Diversity and inclusion are so important in the future growth of motorsport. This is a powerful moment in time where men and women will be represented in every team. It seems only right, therefore, that there is a mixed team in the commentary box, too.”
Furthermore, Alejandro Agag says “Equality is one of the big causes of this century. And I think that with parity between men and women, there’s still work to be done, especially in motorsport. One thing I know for sure; for our industry to continue to be relevant, it must be more diverse. I work on the things I can do. I cannot (make changes) in the fashion world or the pharmaceutical industry. I do motorsport. So, I try to bring equality into motorsport. My aim is that one day, female participation and achievement throughout motorsport will be at such levels where it simply is not a story – then I will be happy.”
Check out the Women in Motorsport Magazine
Women in Motorsport Magazine provides insight on selection of the best Women riders, racers and drivers in the world. The publication is the first International multi-discipline print platform showcasing women racing Motorsport from the past, present and into the future. The magazine provides articles on women who have made deliberate decisions to pursue racing career, facing and overcoming challenges to achieve results over time. Introductions of women are also placed in context within the financial barriers that exist for women to gain traction to race. With emphasis on how women have paved pathways in motorsport, articles highlight from historical perspective how these women have contributed to the development and evolvement of women’s participation in Motorsport disciplines. Women from varying nationalities around the world have provided sources of inspiration from their courage to race.