System 1 world champion Jenson Button has spent two days within the Welsh Valleys test driving a 100% electric SUV, forward of a new rally series geared toward highlighting climate change.
The racing driver – initially from Somerset however now residing in California – spoke to Sky News on a forest test monitor in South Wales.
He’ll drive the 550 horse-power electric SUV within the Excessive-E race occasion beginning in April and mentioned he’s wanting ahead to studying about environmental challenges in a few of the world’s most distant areas.
The 41-year-old will lead one among 10 groups set to race in Saudi Arabia, Argentina, Greenland, Brazil and Senegal this 12 months.
“We’re racing in 5 totally different areas around the globe – all areas which were affected by climate change and it is about bringing consciousness,” mentioned Button.
“There are a variety of personalities within the sport when it comes to the drivers and likewise the staff homeowners. Nico Rosberg’s received a staff, Lewis Hamilton’s received a staff, Ganassi from the States – there are some huge groups racing and this brings a variety of consciousness to these areas we’re racing in,” he added.
Scientists from the colleges of Oxford and Cambridge will be part of the race to hold out experiments in areas together with glaciers in Patagonia and Amazonian rainforests.
The groups will all race the identical electric SUV, which was developed in France by electric racing automobile developer Spark.
That’s a wrap! 2days of testing with the Excessive E Odyssey, a number of helpful data collected however extra importantly I couldn’t cease smiling whereas driving her! A lot torque! The following cease is Saudi Arabia for the primary race, are we prepared? In all probability not however we are going to give it our greatest. 💪🏽 pic.twitter.com/LFZ7rr4wIR
— Jenson Button (@JensonButton) February 3, 2021
The automobile, often called the Odyssey 21, can attain 62mph in 4.5 seconds – however at 1.6 tonnes, it weighs greater than double an F1 automobile.
Will probably be charged utilizing hydrogen gasoline, generated from water and photo voltaic vitality.
Button mentioned: “It is bizarre to name it a automobile – as a result of it goes off-road, over huge jumps, goes by something principally – it is extra of a buggy. It is all electric, all-wheel drive and, as I’ve discovered within the final day or so, it is a variety of enjoyable.”
Regardless of the automobiles being electric, deploying a 10-team skilled rally series into 5 of essentially the most distant areas of world carries a hefty carbon footprint.
Organisers say this shall be lowered by avoiding planes and transporting the automobiles on the St Helena – a former cargo and passenger liner.
The ship has been transformed and can act as HQ and paddock for the races in addition to a base for scientific analysis.
“We have to use our sport to speak about climate change points,” mentioned James Taylor, Excessive E’s chief championships officer.
“In Senegal for instance, the seashore plastics and the harm brought on by man is admittedly unhappy to see. I used to be there two weeks in the past and simply strolling alongside the seashore and seeing miles and miles of discarded plastic.
“We need to change individuals’s picture of that and we need to ship the message to cease utilizing plastics that manner. We will be racing proper there.”
Excessive E will even be the primary motorsport series to see all groups discipline a female and male driver.
Button’s test drive in Wales was the primary time he had ever pushed an electric automobile.
Requested whether or not the expertise would see him change to electric for his personal automobile within the US, he mentioned: “It is unhealthy, I do know, however I like the sound of an engine. I do know this [electric car] is the long run, you have a look at the inventory in electric autos and it is going loopy, it’s the future and the long run we want. So sure, I’ll go electric, however I simply battle with the sound a bit.”
The primary race in Saudi Arabia takes place on the 3-4 April.