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Loeb won't defend Extreme E title with Lewis Hamilton's X44 team

Lewis Hamilton’s X44 Extreme E team has revealed a new look for 2023, with Fraser McConnell replacing rally legend Sebastien Loeb, alongside a new partnership with Rodin Carlin.

Team X44 win the team championship, with Cristina Gutierrez, Sebastien Loeb, Team X44, after finishing 3rd in the race

X44 is the final team to announce its lineup for the new Extreme E season that begins this weekend with the Desert X-Prix in Saudi Arabia.

The team owned by the seven-time Formula 1 world champion has undergone a series of changes during the off-season, headlined by a change to its driver line-up that contested the first two Extreme E seasons and lifted the title last year.

While Cristina Gutierrez is retained for a third season, nine-time World Rally Championship title winner Loeb has been replaced by rallycross racer McConnell. 

The Jamaican enjoyed success in the ARX2 class of the American Rally Championship, where he clinched five class wins across the 2019 season, and is a race-winner in Travis Pastrana's electric Nitro Rallycross series.

This year the team will be run by successfully junior single seater squad Rodin Carlin, who will replace Prodrive after a two-year stint managing the entry.

Loeb meanwhile remains under contract with Prodrive for rally raid competition with its BRX Hunter. 

"I am delighted to join X44, and to be part of a Championship-winning team,” said McConnell, who made his Extreme E debut with JBXE in the final round of last season in Uruguay.

"I am so impressed with Cristina’s performances in the first two seasons of Extreme E and I can’t wait to drive alongside her; I am sure that we will work well together and I hope to learn a lot from her prior experience.

“I’m also looking forward to being part of a team that uses its platform to make the world a better place.

Fraser McConnell, JBXE

Fraser McConnell, JBXE

Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images

“I have always admired Lewis’s dedication to making our sport more inclusive and opening up opportunities for young talent, and I’m honoured to be part of that journey with him.”

Gutierrez added: “Following last season’s win, I am so excited to get back on track and give it my all again for the team.

“Fraser is an exciting young talent and I am looking forward to racing with him this year.

“I’m also looking forward to meeting the new team, and I feel privileged to be part of the journey towards a fairer, more inclusive industry. I can’t wait to see what we can achieve together.”

The move coincides with a renewed focus on diversity regarding the team’s make up, inspired by Hamilton’s drive to create a more diverse and inclusive environment within motorsport, through The Hamilton Commission and Mission44 projects.

The team will be led by team principal Stephanie Carlin while former Mercedes F1 engineer Stephanie Travers, the first black woman to stand on a F1 race podium, has been named as the deputy team principal.

George Imafidon, a member of The Hamilton Commission who has worked within X44 across the inaugural two seasons will fill the role of race engineer, with Calvin Langat listed as the team’s new junior engineer.

“I’m so proud of the incredible work that my team has undertaken so far in Extreme E, and I can’t wait for us to take it to the next level this year,” said Hamilton.

“We know from the findings of The Hamilton Commission that the motorsport industry is an incredibly difficult place to break into, and I hope that X44 can be a powerful platform to provide opportunities to the next generation.

“It has never been more important that we, as an industry, take real action to move our sport forward, and X44’s new direction is one of the ways I am committing to making that genuine change.”

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