W Series champion Jamie Chadwick will drive in next year’s inaugural off-road Extreme E series after joining the Veloce team.
Both Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg have announced their plans to run teams in the new series, which will see off-road racing take to regions hit hardest by climate change, such as Brazil, Senegal and Grenland.
The series will not only raise awareness of climate change, but it will also look to promote gender equality with teams required to be made up one one male and one female driver, with a change taking place during races, and with a successful track record already behind her, Chadwick felt the time was right to commit to her first off-road series with Veloce Racing - the team founded by Red Bull F1 design guru Adrian Newey and 2019 Formula E champion Jean-Eric Vergne.
“I am proud to be driving for Veloce Racing in such a revolutionary championship as Extreme E,” said Chadwick. “I have been involved with Veloce for a very long time and they are like a family to me, so I am incredibly honoured to be their female driver for what is such an exciting and important race series.
“Climate change is something that affects us all, so I’m really keen to start doing my part to fight it. I can safely say that testing the car was one of the best and most fun experiences I have had in my career so far. I can’t wait to get out to the amazing venues where we’ll be racing next year; these are some of the most beautiful and endangered locations on our planet. Both on and off-track, it promises to be an incredibly rewarding journey.”
The 22-year-old has already got to grips with the Odyssey 21, the electric SUV that will be used by each of the teams competing in the series, after taking part in a week-long test at Fontjoncourse in southern France, and Chadwick plans on getting behind the wheel once against at Motorland Aragon in Spain next month to continue preparations for the season-opener in Saudi Arabia on 20/21 March.
The championship gets underway in the desert, with the second event taking place in Dakar, Senegal, before heading to Greenland in August in Kangerlussuaq where the impact of global warming will be the focal point of the three events. The fourth round takes place in Santarem in Brazil where deforestation of the Amazon will be high on the agenda, before rounding out the campaign in Argentina on the Tierra del Fuego glaciers.
Veloce Racing team manager Ian Davies said that Chadwick’s teammate is yet to be confirmed, but admitted that the addition of one of the most talented female drivers in motorsport - and current Williams F1 development driver - will hold them in good stead to compete this year.
“We are delighted to have Jamie on-board at Veloce for the first season of Extreme E,” Davies said. “She is a very quick, talented and committed young driver, with a pedigree that quite frankly speaks for itself. Having won titles in both sportscars and single-seaters, there is no reason at all why she shouldn’t transfer those skills and win in Extreme E, in what promises to be a very high-calibre field.
“Her first test in the Odyssey 21 during our shakedown in France last week was a very positive and encouraging start. Her experience from single-seater and GT competition was invaluable to the early development of our car – from quick driver changes to initial and mid-corner turn-in – and she had significant input into our engineering refinements.
“Jamie would be the first to acknowledge that off-road driving is completely new to her, but she is a fast learner and she listened carefully to everything we had to say, worked well with the engineers, took it all on-board and – most importantly – got quicker and quicker with every run. We are all very excited to see what she can achieve when we go racing next year.”
Extreme E operates a ‘Drivers’ Programme’ to promote potential options to teams who will be competing, of which Chadwick was one of the participants. Others include fellow Briton Billy Monger, former Formula E champions Lucas Di Grassi, six-time rally world champion Sebastien Ogier and three-time Le Mans winner Andre Lotterer.