McLaren is the latest to commit to Extreme E, the new FIA-sanctioned off-road racing series that has already attracted three Formula One world champions as team owners.
In a statement released on Friday, McLaren said it will tackle Extreme E from 2022 with its own team. The move is part of a wider sustainability and diversity agenda, it said. We could also see it as being the first steps toward creating some credibility for an electric crossover in McLaren's lineup.
Extreme E was created by the same people behind Formula E and is currently hosting its inaugural season. Each season has five rounds, with the 2021 season having kicked off in April with an opening round in Saudi Arabia.
There are nine teams currently competing, and per the rules, each has to have one male driver and one female driver taking equal turns behind the wheel.
Extreme E electric racing SUV
McLaren is actually the third car brand to join the series. The first two were Volkswagen Group's Cupra and fellow Spanish brand Hispano Suiza, and EV startup Fisker has also hinted at the possibility of forming a team. There are also teams backed by current F1 star Lewis Hamilton and former drivers Nico Rosberg and Jenson Button.
It's not the first time McLaren has been involved in an electric racing series. The British squad has also been a supplier of key components, including batteries, for Formula E.
“While Formula One will always remain at the center of our world, like IndyCar and esports, our entry into Extreme E is additive to the McLaren Racing franchise and will complement and help support all our programs,” Zak Brown, head of McLaren Racing, said in a statement.
For Extreme E's inaugural season, all teams use a common electric off-roader known as the Odyssey 21. The vehicle is manufactured by Spark Racing Technology, the same company that builds the Formula E race cars, and its claimed performance specs include a 0-62 mph time of 4.5 seconds and the ability to climb gradients of up to 130%.