Former F1 champion Nico Rosberg forming team to race in Extreme E electric series

Sebastian Reuter/Getty Images for Greentech Festival
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Nico Rosberg, the 2016 Formula One champion, announced the formation of a team in Extreme E, the environmentally conscious series that will race 550-horsepower electric SUVs next year.

Rosberg Xtreme Racing will compete against a team (X44) started by former Mercedes-AMG Petronas teammate Lewis Hamilton, the six-time F1 champion who announced last month that he will field an entry in the series.

Rosberg has been an active investor in sustainability startups since retiring from F1 four years ago after his title. He also was an early investor and shareholder in Formula E, which was started by Extreme E founder and CEO Alejandro Agag.

The Rosberg Extreme Racing ODYSSEY 21 (Extreme E).

“We are thrilled to unveil Rosberg Xtreme Racing as the latest addition to Extreme E,” Rosberg said in a release. “The series represents an amazing opportunity to not only drive awareness but also inspire action in the fight against climate change – the single biggest threat to our planet today. Since retiring from F1, I have dedicated my career to sustainable technologies so to be able to combine these endeavors with my passion for racing is incredibly fulfilling.”

EXTREME DIRECTIONWhy Extreme E interested Chip Ganassi Racing

The series will consist of nine teams (also including Chip Ganassi Racing and Andretti Autosport), and each will have a male and female driver who will trade stints in the events.

Here’s the release from Extreme E:

Extreme E, the new electric off-road racing series, is delighted to welcome Nico Rosberg to the championship through the formation of his own team – Rosberg Xtreme Racing (RXR) – which will make its racing debut in 2021.

Led by 2016 Formula One™ World Champion and sustainability entrepreneur Nico Rosberg, the team is an evolution of Team Rosberg, founded in 1994 by Nico’s father and 1982 F1 World Champion, Keke Rosberg. RXR builds on the team’s success in the German Touring Car Masters (DTM) as well as Nico Rosberg’s post-F1 career as an entrepreneur in the field of sustainable mobility.

Since retiring from Formula One, Rosberg has invested in numerous successful sustainability start-ups and is also an early investor and shareholder of the all-electric racing series Formula E. With his entrepreneurial commitment, Rosberg supports businesses that offer disruptive solutions in the transition to a sustainable society. In 2019, Rosberg founded the GREENTECH FESTIVAL, a global platform to showcase pioneering green technologies.

RXR and Extreme E share a commitment to educate and inspire the series’ audience to take action in the fight against climate change both internationally and locally across the five-race calendar which spans four continents. The team’s commitment extends to off-track activities and projects with high-level institutions and initiatives that generate measurable social and environmental impact in the remote locations which Extreme E is set to visit. One of the first projects that RXR will support in its opening season is an initiative by the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, which works with rural communities in Senegal to monitor available water resources and the status of vegetation.

Commenting on the team’s unveiling, Rosberg Xtreme Racing Founder and CEO Nico Rosberg said: “We are thrilled to unveil Rosberg Xtreme Racing as the latest addition to Extreme E. The series represents an amazing opportunity to not only drive awareness but also inspire action in the fight against climate change – the single biggest threat to our planet today. Since retiring from F1 I have dedicated my career to sustainable technologies so to be able to combine these endeavours with my passion for racing is incredibly fulfilling.

Alejandro Agag, Extreme E Founder and CEO, said: “We are ecstatic to finally announce that Rosberg Xtreme Racing will be joining our line-up for the first season of Extreme E. We have been talking about this project for many months and we are thrilled he has chosen Extreme E for his formal return to motorsport as Founder and CEO of his own racing team. There is clearly a great synergy between Nico’s endeavours in the sustainability field and the aims of Extreme E so his team is a hugely welcomed addition to the series.”

RXR is the ninth team to sign up to Extreme E, which goes racing in early 2021 in five remote locations; arctic, desert, rainforest, glacier, and coastal; which are already damaged or severely under threat of climate change from a range of serious issues including melting ice caps, deforestation, desertification and rising sea levels.

Teams will race an electric SUV named ODYSSEY 21, which can go from 0-100km/h in 4.5 seconds, at gradients of up to 130 percent. It is manufactured by Spark Racing Technology, with a battery produced by Williams Advanced Engineering, a niobium-reinforced steel alloy tubular frame, and purpose built tyres, designed by Continental Tyres, which are the most extreme the company has ever produced.

Coinciding with the team’s entry in Extreme E, leading eco luxury catamaran manufacturer Sunreef Yachts and the company’s president Francis Lapp have extended their partnership with Nico Rosberg and are now also an official team partner of Rosberg Xtreme Racing. Further partners will be announced in the coming months.

Jenson Button joins NASCAR Garage 56 at Le Mans with Jimmie Johnson, Rockenfeller

Jenson Button NASCAR Le Mans
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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The NASCAR Garage 56 entry in the 24 Hours of Le Mans will be driven by champions of three major-league series — Jenson Button, Jimmie Johnson and Mike Rockenfeller.

The lineup of the Hendrick Motorsports-prepared Next Gen Camaro was announced Saturday before the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

NASCAR’s Garage 56 project was announced in March 2022 as a joint effort by NASCAR, Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet and Goodyear. It marks the return of a NASCAR team to Le Mans for the first time in nearly 50 years with Hendrick fielding a Camaro ZL1 as the “Garage 56” entry in the 100th edition of the sports car classic.

It’s long been expected the car would include Johnson, the seven-time Cup Series champion who is returning to NASCAR’s premier series as a driver-owner in 2023. Rockenfeller, the 2013 DTM champion and 2010 Le Mans overall winner, has attended every NASCAR Garage 56 test since last year while racking up simulator testing hours.

The surprise was Button, the 2009 Formula One champion who has become a popular commentator. Rick Hendrick initially said wanted four-time Cup champion and current Hendrick Motorsports COO Jeff Gordon to drive the car, and Gordon had raced a sports car at Indianapolis last year to test his race shape.

GARAGE 56 ANSWERS, ANALYSISMore on the NASCAR-Hendrick entry for the 24 Hours of Le Mans

“Since the beginning of the Garage 56 project, it has been our goal to partner with the top racers in the world to represent us in Le Mans,” NASCAR chairman and CEO Jim France said in a release. “The lineup of Jimmie, ‘Rocky’ and Jenson is everything we could have dreamed of – three elite drivers who have won at the highest levels of motorsports worldwide. As we celebrate the 75th anniversary of NASCAR, we are honored to have these world-class champions help bring the sights and sounds of a NASCAR race car to fans in Le Mans, and across the world.”

Button had one of the most prolific careers in F1 history finishing with 15 wins and 50 podiums on top of his 2009 World Championship and is widely considered one of the top British drivers of all time.

“As a lifelong racing fan, I have always dreamed of racing certain cars, with and against certain drivers and competing in certain events,” Button said in a release. “In June, a number of those dreams will come true in one event when I get to bring NASCAR to the world stage alongside my pals Jimmie and ‘Rocky’ for the 100th anniversary of the most prestigious race in the world. I’m really looking forward to sharing this journey with NASCAR, Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet and Goodyear, and current and future NASCAR fans from around the world.”

Johnson will make his 24 Hours of Le Mans debut a year after starting his first Indy 500. He has 83 victories in the Cup Series, where he will return for the Daytona 500 next month with his Legacy Motor Club team.

He also has been involved with testing the Garage 56 Camaro.

“I’m super thrilled – it’s been at the top of my bucket list to compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans someday,” Johnson said. “To have this opportunity come – and to partner with everybody and this driver lineup – is truly an incredible opportunity and one that I am thankful to be a part of.”

Rockenfeller teamed with Johnson on the No. 48 Ally Cadillac in the Rolex 24 at Daytona in 2021-22. The German driver has been the lead test driver for Garage 56 and has driven during every on-track test.

“It has been a great journey so far with the whole team and project,” Rockenfeller said. “To be involved as a driver from day one until now was already a great honor, and to now have Jimmie and Jenson alongside me as teammates in Le Mans is unbelievable.”

The car will continue testing with all three drivers next week at the Daytona International Speedway road course. Rolex 24 and four-time IMSA champion Jordan Taylor, who drives for Corvette Racing, will be the team’s backup driver and coach. Taylor also won the GTE Pro class in 2015 at Le Mans, where he has four podium finishes.

The project also is being supported by IMSA GTP team Action Express, whose general manager is former NASCAR executive and Daytona 500-winning crew chief Gary Nelson. Action Express built the first test car for the Garage 56 but since has handed off the project to Hendrick, where it’s being over seen by vice president of competition Chad Knaus (the crew chief for Johnson’s seven championships).

“Action Express got it going and built the mule car, and then Hendrick joined the program, took it from where we had it, and they’re doing a major percentage of the work,” Nelson told NBC Sports. “We just did a test a couple months ago on a wet track. We’ve done a couple of other tests as they were ramping their program up. Now their car is good, tested and running. We’re still involved and here to help. The Hendrick guys have taken the reins, and Rick Hendrick and Chad Knaus are a thrill to work with and doing a much better job. It’s more NASCAR than prototype racing.”