Jenson Button tests an electric SUV for a new series of rallies highlighting climate change UK News
Formula 1 World Champion Jenson Button spent two days in the Welsh Valleys test with a 100% electric SUV before running a new series of rallies to highlight climate change.
The racer – originally from Somerset but now in California – spoke to Sky News on a forest test track in South Wales.
He will be driving the 550 hp electric SUV in the Extreme E race starting in April and is looking forward to learning more about the environmental issues in some of the world’s most remote areas.
The 41-year-old will lead one of ten teams that will compete in Saudi Arabia, Argentina, Greenland, Brazil and Senegal this year.
“We’re going to five different places around the world – all places that are affected by climate change and it’s about raising awareness,” said Button.
“There are a lot of personalities in the sport, both as a driver and as a team owner. Nico Rosberg has a team, Lewis Hamilton has a team, Ganassi from the US – there are some big teams that race and that brings a lot of awareness for the areas we race in, “he added.
Scientists from Oxford and Cambridge Universities will join the race to conduct experiments in places such as glaciers in Patagonia and the Amazon rainforest.
The teams will all drive the same electric SUV developed in France by electric racing car developer Spark.
This is a wrap! Tested on the Extreme E Odyssey for 2 days, gathered a lot of useful information, but more importantly, I couldn’t stop smiling while riding it! So much torque! The next stop is Saudi Arabia for the first race. Are we ready? Probably not, but we’ll do our best. 💪🏽 pic.twitter.com/LFZ7rr4wIR
– Jenson Button (@JensonButton) February 3, 2021
The car, known as the Odyssey 21, reaches 100 km / h in 4.5 seconds – but at 1.6 tons it weighs more than double that of an F1 car.
It is charged with hydrogen fuel, which is made from water and solar energy.
Button said, “It’s weird to call it a car – because it drives off-road, goes over big jumps, basically goes through everything – it’s more like a buggy. It’s all electric, all-wheel drive and, as I found in Am last day or so it’s great fun. “
Although the cars are electric, running a professional rally series with 10 teams in five of the world’s most remote areas is associated with a large carbon footprint.
Organizers say this will be reduced by avoiding planes and transporting the cars on the St. Helena – a former cargo and passenger ship.
The ship has been rebuilt and will serve as the headquarters and paddock for the races as well as a base for scientific research.
“We need to use our sport to talk about climate change issues,” said James Taylor, chief championships officer of Extreme E.
“In Senegal, for example, the beach plastics and man-made damage are really sad to see. I was there two weeks ago and just walked along the beach and saw miles of discarded plastics.
“We want to change people’s image and send the message that that way we won’t use plastics anymore. We’ll race right there.”
Extreme E will also be the first motorsport series in which all teams use a male and a female driver.
Button’s test drive in Wales was the first time he drove an electric car.
When asked if he would switch to electric for his own car based on his experience in the US, he said, “It’s bad, I know, but I love the sound of an engine. I know that [electric car] is the future, you look at the electric vehicle inventory and it’s going crazy, it’s the future and the future we need. So yeah, I’ll be electric, but I’m just struggling a little with the sound. “
The first race in Saudi Arabia will take place on April 3rd and 4th.