Lewis Hamilton has announced he is to make his first foray into running his own racing team, with an entry into the new Extreme E series next year. Hamilton’s team, named X44, will compete in the inaugural series of the all-electric off-road SUV championship set to begin in 2021.
Hamilton has been vocal in his support of environmental causes in the past and believes the series will work positively to promote further awareness of the climate crisis. The team is named after the Formula One world champion’s Mercedes car number and as with all of the series’ entrants, will feature two drivers, both as yet unnamed, one male and one female.
“It’s an exciting new project and it will be fun to have a different role from being the team driver,” said Hamilton. “What is most appealing though, is that the Extreme E championship will be not only raising awareness of some of the most critical environmental issues facing our planet, but also doing something about it through working with local charitable organisations to leave behind no trace and a long-lasting legacy of change.”
This is Hamilton’s first major step away from driving and will provoke further speculation on what course his career might take when he chooses to retire from competing. The British driver is pursuing his seventh F1 world championship title this season, and is expected to sign a new contract with Mercedes to continue racing in F1 shortly.
The Extreme E championship was created by Alejandro Agag, the founder of the all-electric Formula E series. The new championship will consist of five meetings, each racing in locations that are considered to be under threat or already damaged by climate change. The provisional season is scheduled to start in Senegal in January before visiting Saudi Arabia, Nepal, Greenland and Brazil.
Racing will take place across country over two laps of a 16km course with each driver taking on one lap in what will be called an “X Prix”. The races will not be open to the public to minimise the environmental impact but will be broadcast online. Britain’s Jamie Chadwick, who won the first W Series in 2019, is already signed up to take part in the series. Also involved are multiple world rally champion Sébastian Ogier, two-times DTM champion Timo Scheider, Formula E champion Lucas di Grassi, Le Mans winner Andre Lotterer and former IndyCar racer Katherine Legge.