Extreme E News

Lewis Hamilton withdraws Team X44 from Extreme E, Chip Ganassi also pulls out

Timo Pape

Timo Pape

After ABT Cupra, Extreme E has lost two another founding members. X44 Vida Carbon Racing - Lewis Hamilton's racing team - will no longer be competing in the fourth season, which starts in just over a week. The team confirmed this somewhat surprisingly on Thursday. A few hours later, the US racing team Chip Ganassi Racing also announced that it would no longer be taking part in the electric series.

While the other Extreme E teams are currently presenting their driver pairings for the 2024 season, X44 is pulling the plug after three years - just like the German team ABT Cupra did in December. The withdrawal of team owner Lewis Hamilton was not directly indicated.

However, regular driver Cristina Gutierrez had already been announced as a new signing by McLaren a few days ago - alongside ex-Sainz driver Mattias Ekström. When the previous X44 driver Fraser McConnell was also presented as the new regular driver at Acciona Sainz on Thursday morning, X44 probably had to react.

"Although we will not be competing ourselves in 2024, we will be cheering on the series from the sidelines and keeping an eye on the exciting developments in Extreme H," said a statement from the team, referring to the switch in Extreme E from battery-electric drives to hydrogen racing cars.

X44 does not give any reason for their series withdrawal, but it might have to to with a change behind the scenes: team operator Carlin was shortly bought by Rodin Cars.

Agag thanks Hamilton & X44 for "valuable contribution"

"We've had three incredible seasons competing as X44, winning multiple races and even a championship," the statement reads. "Many thanks to our drivers Cristina (Gutierrez), Fraser (McConnell) and Seb (Loeb) as well as all our talented team-mates who have worked hard to help us achieve what we have."

Extreme E founder and CEO Alejandro Agag wishes X44 all the best for the future and thanks seven-time Formula 1 champion Hamilton "for his valuable contribution to Extreme E". The Spaniard also explicitly mentions the "implementation of initiatives away from the race track that focus on gender equality, diversity and inclusion".

No interest in hydrogen: GM & Chip Ganassi also pull out

This was followed on Thursday afternoon by a statement from Chip Ganassi Racing, a team supported by General Motors and its Hummer brand. "Chip Ganassi Racing can confirm that the team will not be competing in the Extreme E series for the 2024 season," the statement read. Extreme E also responded to this exit with a press release in which Agag has his say.

"We would like to pay our upmost thanks to Chip Ganassi Racing and General Motors after their three years in Extreme E. General Motors have been important ambassadors for our electric racing series, however as we transition towards a hydrogen-powered future it’s a logical move for them to concentrate on continuing their efforts in the electric market," the Spaniard said.

A development that was foreseeable when Extreme E announced last year that it was switching from battery-electric drives to hydrogen. During Autumn 2023, Agag had already considered the departure of the two manufacturers Cupra and GM to be likely. However, due to the great potential of a hydrogen racing series, this was accepted.

After the three team withdrawals of ABT, X44 and Chip Ganassi Racing, it looks like eight cars will still be on the grid at the season opener on 17 and 18 February in Jeddah. At least, SUN Minimal recently signed up as a new entry. Whether this is the final number of participants remains to be seen - the official Extreme E website is still as it was at the season finale last year...

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