Jenson Button: ‘Extreme E is great racing without combustion engines’

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Extreme E, an off-road racing bid that started this year, aims to beryllium that interior combustion engines are nary longer required successful centrifugal sport. New Scientist spoke to Jenson Button astir the burgeoning sport

Technology 21 December 2021

By David Stock

Extreme E, an off-road racing bid that started successful 2021, aims to beryllium that interior combustion engines are nary longer required successful centrifugal sport. It is besides a real-world experimentation successful making racing much sustainable.

To minimise each event’s c footprint, the teams’ all-electric Spark Odyssey 21 sports inferior vehicles are charged with star powerfulness stored successful hydrogen substance cells. In-person spectators are banned successful bid to trim the sport’s c footprint, and cars and instrumentality determination betwixt races connected a specially modified vessel to minimise flights and different forms of travel. On a smaller scale, everyone who attends – the media included – is asked to bring their ain bowls, cutlery and cups to destruct waste.

New Scientist travelled to Bovington Camp – a British Army basal successful Dorset, UK – for the last contention of the play and spoke to Jenson Button, a Formula One satellite champion and proprietor of the JBXE Extreme E team, astir what the racing bid is trying to achieve.

David Stock: What is Extreme E and what makes it antithetic from different centrifugal sport?

Jenson Button: Extreme E is precise antithetic from astir centrifugal sports due to the fact that it’s not a combustion engine, it’s electrical powerfulness with batteries. The large happening astir an electrical centrifugal is there’s lone 1 moving part, truthful the reliability is precise good. Electric conveyance (EV) powerfulness is immediate. You person contiguous torque erstwhile you get connected the throttle. This is not conscionable driving connected a motorway oregon track. We’re driving off-road. It’s precise assertive terrain and it’s truly pushing the exertion to its limits.

And besides it’s evidently a batch greener than a combustion engine. With Extreme E, we besides person a hydrogen generator which is charging the cars. [We’re trying to] propulsion the boundaries and propulsion the technology, and hopefully it’s thing we’ll spot much wide utilized successful the future.

Mikaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky (SWE)/Kevin Hansen (SWE), JBXE Extreme-E Team, leads Molly Taylor (AUS)/Johan Kristoffersson (SWE), Rosberg X Racing, and Catie Munnings (GBR)/Timmy Hansen (SWE), Andretti United Extreme E

A JBXE car leads the battalion astatine the Bovington Extreme E race

Alastair Staley / Extreme E ltd. 2021

Why did you articulation Extreme E?

We are decidedly going to person sustainable powerfulness successful the aboriginal erstwhile it comes to roadworthy cars. A batch of manufacturers are present moving with EVs. So for america to propulsion the boundaries here, it was truly exciting. I inactive privation this to consciousness similar a amusive car to drive. We can’t beryllium moving astir successful cars that are 4 times heavier than their interior combustion motor counterparts. It’s astir making [the car] lightweight but besides having capable artillery powerfulness for the region we need. In the future, I’m definite we’re moving to solid-state batteries [and other] caller technologies, but this is simply a large starting point.

“Extreme E is travelling to destinations that person been massively affected by clime alteration to bring consciousness to those areas”

What excited you astir astir Extreme E?

The cars themselves are precise breathtaking with 500-odd horsepower, off-road vehicles, with large suspension travel. But we besides question to places astir the satellite I ne'er would person travelled to before. I went to Greenland and Senegal. [One of the aims of] Extreme E is travelling to destinations that person been massively affected by clime alteration and to bring consciousness to those areas.

We besides person the bequest programme [a bid of collaborations with biology groups to enactment section sustainability projects]. We saw the crystal successful Greenland was brown, dirty-ish looking, which was from the wildfires successful North America. Soot sits connected the crystal erstwhile the prima shines and melts them. You could spot the monolithic rivers that occurred from that melting. It’s truly bittersweet to see. We were trying to stitchery arsenic overmuch accusation arsenic imaginable for the scientists to survey it, to effort and assistance and effort and recognize what we tin bash to help.

Catie Munnings (GBR), Andretti United Extreme E, Christine 'GZ' Giampaoli Zonca (ESP), Hispano Suiza Xite Energy Team, and Jenson Button (GBR), JBXE Extreme-E Team, connected  the Russell Glacier

Jenson Button connected the Russell Glacier, Greenland

Sam Bloxham / Extreme E ltd. 2021

Why are determination nary in-person spectators?

Yes, nary spectators are allowed connected site. The lone mode to ticker is connected your TV, which again is simply a bully happening due to the fact that they’re trying to support the [carbon] footprint arsenic tiny arsenic possible.

Will the benignant of exertion we person seen successful Extreme E and Formula E, a track-based racing bid for electrical vehicles, ever marque its mode into Formula One?

It’s a tricky 1 with Formula One, you know, it’s been combustion engine-based forever. It’s going to beryllium a agelong clip if it does change. They’re truly pushing biofuels successful F1, which is great. Who knows wherever we’re going to extremity up successful 10, 15 years? Everyone’s trying antithetic things. We person EV here, biofuels successful Formula One. The lone mode we’re going to find a bully absorption is contention from antithetic powerfulness sources.

What tin the remainder of centrifugal athletics larn from Extreme E?

We’re showing that you tin person large racing without a combustion engine. We’re hopefully processing the exertion for racing on-track and off-track successful the future. In presumption of radical astatine home, we’re showing what they tin bash to assistance the situation and assistance our kids successful the future. It tin beryllium the smallest thing, similar separating your rubbish from your recycling, oregon not adjacent buying integrative h2o bottles truthful you don’t request to recycle them successful the archetypal place. You mightiness deliberation it’s a tiny, minuscule thing, and however is that going to alteration anything. But if 10 per cent of the colonisation alteration their behaviour, it’s a monolithic alteration successful the world.

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