McLaren will join the electric off-road series Extreme E in 2022, adding another non-Formula 1 programme to its expanded racing roster.
The British manufacturer is entering the series, which aims to highlight the effects of climate change, to enhance its expertise in electric racing and accelerate its sustainability and diversity agenda.
Existing McLaren Racing personnel from outside the F1 team and “additional specialist resource” will run the XE operation, for which a driver pairing – that must comprise one male and one female driver – has not yet been decided.
McLaren will take on teams run by its former F1 drivers Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button, and another F1 world champion Nico Rosberg, in XE.
Rosberg’s drivers Johan Kristoffersson and Molly Taylor won the inaugural XE event in Saudi Arabia and the second round in Senegal as well.
“We will be competing against big names we’re very familiar with from F1 and IndyCar but, like all series we compete in, the competition objective is clear: we are there to win,” said McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown.
Among the other teams in the series is the Andretti United team – a union between US racing giant Andretti Autosport and United Autosports, a team co-owned by Brown.
But he says he is a “silent partner” in that operation and will give “100%” focus to McLaren’s programme.
Brown also says McLaren’s first foray into off-road competition and electric racing as a team is true to the company’s “roots of participating in a variety of categories, innovation and bravery”.
“From the moment Extreme E was announced we have been following the progress of the series closely,” said Brown.
“Our attention was immediately drawn by the innovative format of this motorsport platform, in particular, the ability it gives us to accelerate and boost our own overarching sustainability agenda, which shares the same priorities of decarbonisation, waste reduction, diversity and equality.
“At the same time, it will enable us to reach a new audience with an innovative race format, connect with a new generation of fans through content served across a variety of channels and provide partners with a purpose-led competition platform to align with and share in a positive, powerful narrative.”
Brown said that F1 will “always remain at the centre of our world” but believes McLaren’s latest expansion will benefit the growing “McLaren Racing franchise” as well as “complement and support all our programmes”.
It adds a second non-F1 racing programme after McLaren joined the IndyCar grid last season with a full-time entry in collaboration with Arrow and Schmidt Peterson.
XE founder Alejandro Agag said bringing in McLaren “is a huge endorsement that what we have delivered in just our first two races has already created real impact in motorsport”.
He also called it the biggest announcement in XE’s short history and says it shows the championship is “here to stay”.
“We are absolutely thrilled to welcome Zak and the powerhouse McLaren Racing team to Extreme E,” said Agag.
“We can’t wait to see how the team performs in its first off-road, electric racing debut.”