Ships, beaches… and turtles
The Saudi Arabian debut could have been scuppered completely if the St Helena, the former Royal Mail ship which carries Extreme E around the world, had been caught in the Suez Canal blockage. It was a close call. The ship only cleared the canal and made it into the Red Sea about a week before all sea traffic through the trade route came to a grinding halt.
Along with the cars and equipment, the drivers and teams congregated on the ship in the days leading up to the race weekend to hear scientists give lectures on alternative fuel solutions to solve climate change, and despite Extreme E being an electric-powered series other solutions such as hydrogen and synthetic fuels were on the agenda.
The teams also visited a local beach to visit the nesting sites of turtles that have come under threat from the effects of our changing environment. If the ice caps melt, sea levels will rise all round the world, destroying the habitats of such creatures. It was one of the more novel photo opportunities ever seen in a supposed racing context, as drivers and team owners were employed to scour the beach for plastics and rubbish. The sight of Carlos Sainz Sr. walking along with a bin bag filling it with detritus will likely stick with those who witnessed it for quite some time.
It’s easy to be cynical. But the scientists insist that taking any action and publicising such problems around the world in this manner is a valid contribution to the biggest threat to our existence. The legacy of Extreme E, Agag insists, will not be centred around Rosberg and Hamilton renewing their old rivalry as racing team owners, but instead what difference the series can make to the environmental emergency we all face. Just how significant and real this legacy turns out to be remains to be seen.
Images courtesy of Motorsport Images.