With the start of the 2022 Extreme E Championship a week away, McLaren Racing is set for its first foray into the electric off-road series with some very familiar colours. As part of the team-wide livery reveal that includes its Formula One and NTT IndyCar Series programmes, McLaren unveiled the “Fluro Papaya” and “New Blue” paint scheme that the Extreme E side’s Odyssey 21 will sport.
McLaren announced its entry into Extreme E last June, when the series was two rounds into its inaugural season. The decision came as the team expressed interest in expanding its horizons to include environmental and diversity goals. Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour were tabbed as the team’s 2022 lineup, with Gilmour moving over from Veloce Racing while Foust is a newcomer.
Gilmour was Veloce’s reserve driver but saw action at the Arctic and Island X Prixes while regular driver Jamie Chadwick was competing in the W Series. The Veloce duo of Gilmour and Stéphane Sarrazin finished sixth and eighth in the two rounds. Veloce would place seventh in the standings with a runner-up finish at the Ocean X Prix. When Gilmour signed with McLaren in November, she became the team’s first female driver. Prior to Extreme E, she raced in New Zealand Rally Championship and rallycross, the latter of which included competing at the X Games in 2014.
“After the winter break Tanner and I are ready to get back in the car and we certainly can’t wait to be reunited with ours in its spectacular new livery,” Gilmour stated. “We haven’t seen the car since the ship left the UK to transport the cars to Saudi at the end of December. It’s going to be some reunion. We’ve got a great small team ready to see us through our first season as well as some epic and challenging race locations.”
Foust joins Extreme E, a car which he described in Friday’s reveal as like “a really fast marshmallow”, as one of the most iconic names in American drifting and rallycross. He won the 2012 Global Rallycross and 2019 Americas Rallycross Championships, a wealth of X Games rallycross and gymkhana medals, and even titles in Formula Drift and Rally America. In 2021, he competed in the newly formed Nitro Rallycross and placed sixth in the standings. His legend also expands outside of competition as a former co-host of the American adaption of Top Gear and performing stunts for films like The Fast and the Furious franchise and Ford v Ferrari.
“Extreme E is going to use every single driving skill I have, including stunt driving,” said Foust. “There couldn’t be a more challenging series when you think about the locations in which it races. I was a science major so I can’t wait to find out more about the legacy programme and see the travelling scientists in action.
“Emma has had a bit of a head start as she participated last season, so she knows more about what lies ahead but I’m embracing the challenge of the unknown. We only have five races to make our mark and plenty of time in between to work on our strategy, so the sooner we get started the better.”
Zak Brown, McLaren’s team principal, runs fellow XE team Andretti United which is a joint venture between IndyCar’s Andretti Autosport and Brown’s United Autosports. The team finished fourth in the 2021 standings with a win at the Arctic X Prix, and will continue in 2022 with Timmy Hansen and Catie Munnings. Regarding concerns about a conflict of interest in being connected to XE rivals, Brown has explained his Andretti United position is more like a “silent partner” while he will be “100 percent McLaren” once said team joined the series.
McLaren XE sporting director Mark Grain, who previously oversaw the IndyCar programme, commented, “This is about as different as it gets from other racing series, and it is going to be a huge learning experience in terms of the different terrains in which we race as well as the environmental challenges these parts of the world face. So much of this is going to be about education in terms of raising climate awareness as well as to expect the unexpected.
“In Tanner and Emma, we have a dynamic and high-achieving driving team and in Leena and Teena Gade, we have two top-flight engineers helping to keep our car on the road. It’s going to be an exciting start to our first season that’s for sure.”
The 2022 Extreme E season begins with the Desert X Prix on 19/20 February.