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Extreme E Scotland X-Prix

Five things we learned from the Extreme E Hydro X Prix

It was another wild, but this time wet, Extreme E round last weekend, with Scotland’s Hydro X Prix generating plenty of highlights. Here’s the five things we learned from the second round of the 2023 campaign

Molly Taylor, Kevin Hansen, Veloce Racing

1. Veloce become title contenders in most open season yet

Veloce head the early standings thanks to two wins from the opening four rounds

Veloce head the early standings thanks to two wins from the opening four rounds

Photo by: Colin McMaster / Motorsport Images

While Rosberg X Racing and Lewis Hamilton’s X44 squad were the teams to beat in the first two seasons of Extreme E, things have not gone to form so far in 2023, with that trend continuing at the weekend.

Having taken its maiden victory at the season-opener in Saudi Arabia, Veloce Racing became the first two-time winners of season three in Sunday’s second grand final with experienced pairing Kevin Hansen and Molly Taylor.

“It's teamwork,” Hansen revealed on Veloce’s strong start. “It's the boring answer but it’s the truth of this team. It's such a family team.”

Newcomers Carl Cox Motorsport recorded its first podium in Saturday’s final, while Chip Ganassi Racing were the most consistent outfit, scoring a fourth and a third. Nine of the 10 teams have made the podium across the four rounds.

While reigning champion X44 took its first win of the campaign on Saturday, it was blighted by incidents on Sunday, while RXR crashed out of both finals.

The new format for 2023, with single-car time trials replaced by a further pair of races in qualifying, has played its part in mixing things up. GridPlay, where fans’ votes influence the starting grids for races in which track position is vital, adds another random element to the competition, something which has divided opinion in the paddock.

2. A “bittersweet” weekend for home favourite Munnings

Home favourite Munnings endured the highs and lows in Extreme E

Home favourite Munnings endured the highs and lows in Extreme E

Photo by: Alastair Staley / Motorsport Images

As the only British driver in the field, there was a lot of attention on Catie Munnings before the event. Munnings and Andretti partner Timmy Hansen were aiming to bounce back from a difficult start to their campaign, and they managed that emphatically on Saturday. Munnings completed an on-the-road win for the pairing in the final, but a 15.3-second penalty for leaving the Switch Zone fractionally too early demoted them to second.

“It's kind of bittersweet,” said Munnings. “We were released 0.3 seconds early and then a 15.3s penalty. I understand why the stewards do it. We had a seven-second gap at the finish, it feels hard to take because you know that wouldn't have made any difference but we have to respect the rules because they are there for a reason. We've got to take the podium, it's an amazing achievement to be on any step of the podium with the drivers around you as quick as they are.”

After being hampered by a driveshaft failure in the first round of qualifying on Sunday, Munnings and Hansen bounced back in the second round to initially make the final. But a change to the results afterwards relegated them to the Redemption Race, where another strong performance secured them second.

“We always aim for the final, and we were nearly there twice this weekend which is a real positive,” Munnings added.

3. Visibility the biggest challenge on brutal course

The combination of wet clay, rain and dust made visibility extremely challenging

The combination of wet clay, rain and dust made visibility extremely challenging

Photo by: Colin McMaster / Motorsport Images

On the site of a former coal mine, the track layout in Scotland was predicted to be one of the most challenging yet. With this writer getting to experience a passenger lap with reserve driver Tommi Hallman, it was easy to see why. With a mixture of fast and banked sections at the bottom of a quarry and some violent bumpy roads at the top of the course, drivers faced a thrilling challenge. But it was visibility that proved to be the biggest talking point of the weekend - with wet clay making it almost impossible for drivers to see through their windscreens at times.

RXR’s Johan Kristoffersson was a victim of that in Saturday’s final, crashing into a wall and rolling out of the race while unsighted. “With the windscreen covered up it was very difficult when the wipers stopped,” he said.

Tanner Foust was one of the stars of Sunday’s rain-soaked final, his pass on Mattias Ekstrom helping him and McLaren partner Emma Gilmore finish second.

“The most extreme part of this series in a lot of ways is that feeling inside that you are doing nearly 100mph on a cliff edge bouncing along and suddenly visibility goes to exactly zero,” said Foust. “So it's quite a stressful thing. You can't slow down and give anything up. The pass I had on Mattias I should be very proud of, but I never saw the corner, I just saw him go by in my passenger window and turned and pulled the handbrake and it just worked out.”

4. They make them strong in Extreme E

Klara Andersson walked away relatively unscathed after a huge accident on Saturday

Klara Andersson walked away relatively unscathed after a huge accident on Saturday

Photo by: Colin McMaster / Motorsport Images

The nature of Extreme E, with five-car races on rough terrains, means that incidents and rolls are part and parcel of weekends. And it was no different in Scotland, with Abt Cupra’s Klara Andersson suffering a huge crash in Saturday’s qualifying. The Swede was trying to pass another car when she was squeezed into a hay bale before somersaulting in the air and then landing the right way up. Andersson emerged unscathed, again showing the strength of the Electric Odyssey machines.

“We had a clear plan,” Andersson said afterwards. “I was taking the start and using the hyperdrive at waypoint one to do the undercut and pass. I executed that and was on my way to pass the car and then I got squeezed into the hay bales sadly and had the biggest roll and first roll of my career. It's not nice, the team has been doing such a good job preparing for this weekend and unfortunately we didn't make it out for the Redemption Race.”

“I had a front row seat,” added Foust, who was running behind Andersson. “It was one of the most spectacular rolls I've ever seen from the driver's seat as she was way over the roof of my truck height-wise, luckily she was okay.”

Abt was back out on Sunday, but Andersson was a hapless victim again in the second round of semi-finals, crashing off the course at a similar place in avoidance of two cars that had spun in front of her.

5. Extreme H plans still on track

Agag provided an update on Extreme H in Scotland

Agag provided an update on Extreme H in Scotland

Photo by: Alastair Staley / Motorsport Images

Extreme E founder Alejandro Agag revealed that plans for the hydrogen-based Extreme H championship are still on track for 2024, with the first prototype due to be ready in July this year.

Continuing to lead the push for innovation in motorsport, Agag is aiming to create the first hydrogen-cell technology motorsport series, but says it has not yet been decided whether to run it parallel with Extreme E.

“We had a meeting with the teams here as we have to decide whether we do battery and hydrogen in parallel or switch to hydrogen completely,” he said. “And that's a decision with a lot of stakeholders involved. The first prototype is due for July for a shakedown, and the first car will be ready in October. And from October we start production of the cars. Of course, we want to keep the safety level the same, the only acceptable risk level is the one we have here. We don't want to add to the risk of racing with the technology you are using. We've never had a battery fire in Formula E or Extreme E.

“To be able to adapt into the sponsorship from companies that are betting on [hydrogen technology], it's one of the reasons why we want to do it, because it also has to be a business. On the battery side and the electric side we have some very good sponsors around. The teams can use a lot more sponsorship, we can use a lot more sponsorship, with hydrogen we have a unique opportunity to offer a platform to all these sponsors.”

Could Extreme E be joined by Extreme H in the future?

Could Extreme E be joined by Extreme H in the future?

Photo by: Charly Lopez / Motorsport Images

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