Rosberg X Racing drivers Johan Kristoffersson and Molly Taylor crowned as first Xtreme E champions

Rosberg Racing Extreme E
Extreme E

After finishing fourth in the final round of the inaugural five-race Extreme E season, Rosberg X Racing with drivers Johan Kristoffersson and Molly Taylor were crowned champions. The season ended with a tie for the top spot with X44’s Sebastian Loeb and Cristina Gutierrez also earning 155 points, but the tiebreaker went to Rosberg X on the strength of that team’s three wins.

Rosberg Racing won the first two rounds and Round 4, which gave them the lead heading into the finale. X44, owned by Formula 1 star Lewis Hamilton and rally standout Sebastien Loeb, did their best to close the gap by winning the final round, the Jurassic X Prix. Rosberg Racing finished fourth in that race to force the tie.

“It’s fantastic; this has been a new racing series, new team, and new locations but we’ve worked so hard to get here, and to be champions really feels amazing,” Kristoffersson said in a series release. “Molly drove excellently today, managing the challenging conditions and I knew that all that remained for me was to not make any mistakes and bring the car home safely. We’re delighted to be champions and look forward to celebrating with the team.”

In most racing series, there can be only one champion. The unique rules of Extreme E pair a male and female driver in each team and provide two champions.

“It feels amazing to be the first-ever championship winners of Extreme E,” said Taylor. “This season has been brutal, racing in some of the most remote parts of the world in truly extreme conditions, but we’ve worked together as a team and we’re delighted with this result.

“The nerves were definitely there today but Johan and I kept our eyes on the final prize, and the whole team effort across many months has brought us to this point today.”

While the top two teams finished first and fourth, the start of the final race of the season saw them leave the starting line wheel-to-wheel. Gutierrez feathered her Odyssey 21 to full power on the loose soil quickest with Taylor falling into second. As the race progressed, Taylor was passed by Mikhaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky (JBXE) and Catie Munnings (Andretti United). Taylor could not afford to fall any lower if Rosberg Racing wanted to win the title.

When the driving duties were handed over to Kristoffersson, the drama evaporated in the Driver Switch Zone as Rosberg X Racing padded the advantage over the Carlos Sainz led team. Securing the fourth position was enough to create the tiebreaker.

“This has been a challenging championship for us, but this weekend was the best so far,” said race winner and second-place championship contender Loeb. “We came first in qualifying in every X Prix, but we kept having bad luck in the finals – so to end on equal points with RXR after the season they’ve had is incredible and shows what we can do.

“I’m confident we will do even better next year, but for now we will be celebrating with the team.”

Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and Formula One embrace the United States

Verstappen Perez United States
Jared C. Tilton / Getty Images

Last week, Red Bull Racing revealed their new car, the RB19, and a new relationship with US-based Ford Motors in a press event in New York City complete with drivers Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and Team Principle Christian Horner. They are the only Formula 1 team to launch in the United States, but even that small move of the needle reflects a major shift in the attitude of both F1’s management and their teams – and the extent to which the American audience has fully embraced the sport.

“It’s something fantastic and unique, for the sport to be able to break it into the U.S,” Perez told NBC Sports. “The market is huge and it’s a huge opportunity for everyone involved, for the drivers, for the team. It’s always a huge market.”

Verstappen Perez United States
Sergio Perez finished fourth in the Unites States Grand Prix, but he was first with the fans.  – Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

In 2023, Formula 1 will race three times in the United States and five times in North America. The Circuit of the Americas will host their 11th consecutive race in October before heading south to Mexico City. Miami returns for a second time in May on a temporary street course around the Hard Rock cafe and the third addition is in downtown Las Vegas in November.

With the Canadian Grand Prix on the schedule for June and the Brazilian Grand Prix in November, American fans are now in the ballpark of Europeans, who have eight events on the continent and one in England.

In 2022, Verstappen won every race in North America. He was kept from sweeping the hemisphere only by George Russell, who won in Brazil. That fact is less remarkable when one considers that Verstappen won 15 times in the season – nearly two-thirds of the races on the schedule.

By the time Formula arrived in Austin for Round 20 of 23, Verstappen had already wrapped up his second consecutive championship.

“Sometimes it can be hard to replicate the season, but I think it’s the same as with the car, right? You always try to improve it,” Verstappen told NBC Sports. “And I always look at the little details that even when you have had a good race, you could have done better. And then of course you also learn from the bad races. So we always try to look for these little improvements and general experience you gain year after year.

“You try to do better, but of course it also depends a lot on the package you have.”

Verstappen Perez United States
Max Verstappen United States Grand Prix win was one of 15 for the drivers and 17 for Red Bull.
(Gongora / NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Now Verstappen’s thoughts will inevitably turn to establishing a dynasty – and America will again play a pivotal role.

“I just enjoy what I’m doing,” Verstappen said.  “After the years in Formula One, when you have to be on top of your game and you gain a lot on your experience – in that sense nothing really can get to you anymore. Every year you just try to do the best you can. But a lot depends on the material around you. It’s always a bit of a guess. Start the season as fit as you can be and be well prepared. But if you don’t have the car, you’re not going to win the championship.”

Perez added two wins to Red Bull’s total, at Monaco and the Marina Bay Street course. With two of the US 2023 races on street courses, Perez hopes to close the gap on Verstappen and potentially be his principle rival for the championship.

“The strategy is clear; it is to maximize the potential of the car – and we believe we have a good car, but how good?,” Perez said “We don’t know what the competition is doing. We just give our best in building this car and we hope that it’s good enough to get us to win races.

“I think we have to work together as a team. At the same time. We both want to win the championship. It’s just having good compromise. The competition will be really strong out there, so we really need everything we possibly can get from each other.”

Formula One returns to the United States for Round 6 and the Miami Grand Prix on May 7.