F1 champion to launch his own team in the pioneering electric off road racing series
Formula one legend Lewis Hamilton is giving his backing to electric car racing by founding his own team in the upcoming Extreme E off-road rally series.
Extreme E sees competitors race in a series of remote locations including arctic, desert, rainforest, glacial, and coastal environments - all of which are damaged or severely under threat from climate change.
The races are designed to both showcase the robustness and high performance of electric vehicles while raising awareness of environmental threats to a new audience. Meanwhile, a legacy programme will work with communities in the race locations to deliver a positive long term impact based on local needs.
The six-time world champion will not be behind the wheel when the first Extreme E race kicks off in early 2021, but Hamilton this week described the venture as a "great opportunity to be involved from the outset [in a] great sustainability initiative."
The team's name, X44, bears Hamilton's racing number and a statement from the team said he will "put the learnings of his motorsport career into practice to help guide the creation of a dedicated and competitive team".
Hamilton said: "My ambitions and commitments with Mercedes in Formula One mean that I won't be operationally involved in X44, but I'm excited to play a different role in this new series, one that brings my vision for a more sustainable and equal world to life.
"Extreme E really appealed to me because of its environmental focus. Every single one of us has the power to make a difference, and it means so much to me that I can use my love of racing, together with my love for our planet, to have a positive impact."
In keeping with its ethos, the Extreme E series will not have spectators with races instead broadcast live. An independent scientific committee of leading climate experts from Oxford and Cambridge Universities will advise Extreme E and organisers hope it becomes a template for how racing, and the wider sports industry, can have a positive impact on the planet.
Each team competing in Extreme E will use the same single-design car which Extreme E describes as "cutting edge". It is hoped that low-carbon innovation developed for events such as these will find its way into everyday use.
Alejandro Agag, the founder and CEO of Extreme E, said: "Lewis is one of the most successful drivers of all time, and we're all excited to see how his X44 team performs on and off the race track under his incredible guidance."
The move is the second high profile environmental venture from Hamilton, after he last year announced plans for a chain of vegan burger restaurants.
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