Season 3 kicks off in Neom: Preview of the Extreme E Desert X Prix
The winter break is over and in a few days the Extreme E, like last year, opens its season with the Desert X Prix in Neom. The Meister:innen will be crowned in December in South America. Start the same, end the same - everything the same as last year? Not at all! Thanks to a new race format, the number of races in 2023 will be doubled from five to ten. In addition, there will be new drivers, a new team, and new tracks in Scotland, the USA, and Brazil. In our preview, we have summarized all the important information including the schedule for the Desert X Prix for you
Where will the Extreme E race take place?
Once again this year, the Desert X Prix will be held in Neom - a planned region on the Red Sea in Saudi Arabia. There, several completely carbon-neutral cities built on sustainable energy are to be created by 2030, such as the mirrored ribbon city "The Line" or the floating technology city Oxagon.
The city will also be home to the "Desert X Prix.
While last year's Extreme E races were held more remotely in the Neom desert, this year the electric series has set up quarters right on the Red Sea. The Saudi coastal area in this region is sports-proven, as last year it hosted the Neom Beach Games - consisting of kitesurfing, triathlon, 3x3 basketball, beach soccer and mountain biking.
What has happened since the last race in Punta del Este?
During the winter break between the second and third seasons, the electric series has been working on a new race format. As a result, Extreme E will contest every race weekend as a "double-header" from now on. The format of each event has been reduced to just one race day, starting with two qualifying sessions in a heat format. The top five teams automatically qualify for the finals, while the remaining teams start in the "Redemption Race" and fight it out between themselves for positions 6 to 10. All info on the new race format can be found here.
In addition, several teams have unveiled a new driver:inside lineup in recent weeks. With Heikki Kovalainen and Mattias Ekström fell recently some high-profile names. Carl Cox Motorsport is also a new team, replacing Xite Energy Racing. In our news ticker we have summarized all transfer news of the last days for you. Here is the driver:inside lineup for the Desert X Prix.
|ABT Cupra XE||Klara Andersson||Nasser Al-Attiyah|
|Acciona | Sainz XE Team||Laia Sanz||Mattias Ekström|
|Andretti Altawkilat Extreme E||Catie Munnings||Timmy Hansen|
|Carl Cox Motorsports||Christine Giampaoli Zonca||Timo Scheider|
|JBXE||Hedda Hosas||Heikki Kovalainen|
|Neom McLaren Extreme E||Emma Gilmour||Tanner Foust|
|No. 99 GMC Hummer EV Chip Ganassi Racing||Amanda Sorensen||RJ Anderson|
|Rosberg X Racing||Mikaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky||Johan Kristoffersson|
|Veloce Racing||Molly Taylor||Kevin Hansen|
|X44 Vida Carbon Racing||Christina Gutierrez||Fraser McConnell|
Who broadcasts the races on TV & livestream?
The new race format results in the following schedule for the two days of racing during the first race weekend of the third season.
|day of week||date||session||Time||TV station/stream|
|Saturday||11.03.||Qualifying 1||06:00 - 07:30||DAZN / YouTube|
|Saturday||11.03.||Final 1||13:00 - 15:00||DAZN / YouTube|
|Sunday||March 12||Qualifying 2||06:00 - 07:30||DAZN / YouTube|
|Sunday||March 12||Final 2||13:00 - 15:00||DAZN / YouTube|
The free practice sessions will take place at 9:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Friday, each lasting two and a half hours. Neither session will be broadcast to the public. Sky Sport extended its broadcasting rights in Germany during the winter break, but will continue to broadcast no live sessions, only highlights and magazine features.
The previously usual broadcast on 'ran.de' or ProSieben Maxx there will be no more in the new season: The Munich-based private broadcaster wants to focus its motorsport involvement with "ran, ProSieben Maxx and ProSieben on Formula E and the DTM," as a spokesperson for the company explained in response to a query from 'e-Formel.de'. Instead, the streaming service provider DAZN will show the Desert X Prix on the Internet. English-language livestreams of the sessions are also to be offered on the Extreme E YouTube and Facebook channel. Eurosport 1 will also show a summary of the race on March 14 at 23:00.
What distinguishes the race track in Neom?
On Thursday afternoon, Extreme E released its final track layout. The course is located directly on the Red Sea beach, so the terrain is expected to be more similar to conditions at the Ocean X Prix in Senegal than previous desert races in Saudi Arabia. The 3.4-kilometer track layout includes a long straight along the coast (including the traction challenge) and, most importantly, many turns that make the course technically very demanding. However, the switchbacks are wide enough to allow for multiple lines as well as overtaking maneuvers.
"There are many challenging sections on the track, crests, difficult turns and two very spectacular jumps," said Andreas Bakkerud, track designer and substitute driver for Extreme E. "Some of the turns are quite wide, so drivers can choose multiple lines. The long straightaway right on the beach will also be an incredible sight and should provide an iconic backdrop. Those who use hyperdrive properly here will be able to overtake well."
What is the Extreme E's Legacy Program in Neom?
The Extreme E supports different sustainability projects at each race venue to leave a positive "footprint" locally. In Neom, the series is supporting a tree planting initiative, as it did last year. In addition, in 2023, the drivers:inside as well as parts of the Extreme E event team will support an action group to release ostriches, antelopes and gazelles back into their natural habitat in a nature reserve.
What will be the weather in Neom?
The driver:inside expects in Neom best summer weather with temperatures between 20 and 26 degrees Celsius with about eleven hours of sunshine. The wind, which whistled during the week still in gusts with up to 45 km/h, flattens somewhat to the weekend. Rain is not expected.
Who are the favorites?
Before the first race of a new season, the guesswork as to which team is likely to be the favorite is particularly high. What is certain is that Rosberg X Racing with the proven team around Mikaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky and Johan Kristoffersson are among the top favorites, as are the defending champion:s of X44 - even if the latter have to deal with the departure of Sebastian Loeb. Last year's third force, Acciona Sainz, is also well positioned despite the departure of Carlos Sainz sr. That's because Mattias Ekström, a rallycross and DTM champion, is returning to Extreme E and could battle for wins alongside Laia Sanz.
Then there are the teams ABT Cupra, Veloce and Andretti, which are no less strong on paper, and which have tended to settle in the midfield in the past two seasons despite individual outliers to the top. ABT celebrated its first victory at the 2022 season finale with then substitute driver Klara Andersson and Nasser Al-Attiyah and signed the young Swede directly for season 3. Veloce and Andretti each have one of the two Hansen brothers, Kevin and Timmy, at the wheel together with Season 1 champion Molly Taylor and Catie Munnings respectively. In the battle for the podium places, these six should definitely be kept in mind.