Racing lines: F1 is chasing the money with 2022 calendar

Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Greenland, Sardinia… Dorset. Come again? It’s a lovely part of the world and the Jurassic Coast is delightful – but Dorset? It’s not exactly, well, ‘extreme’, is it? In the wake of F1’s global expansion, is Alejandro Agag pulling a masterstroke by reducing his ambition and carbon footprint in pointed contrast? Try pulling the other one. Rather, it smacks more of any port in a storm as his electric-powered Extreme E off-road series seeks to complete its season amid the global trauma of an ongoing pandemic.

The British Army’s Bovington base will host the fifth and final round of the season on 18-19 December, for the series’ UK debut. Originally scheduled to race in Brazil and Argentina, replacements for the cancelled South American leg have been TBC for months. The Island X Prix in Sardinia, which took place last weekend, filled one slot – and now the other has been dubbed the Jurassic X Prix, at a venue that has previously hosted stages for relatively humble rallies counting for the British Rally Championship.

It’s easy to smirk. But to be fair to Agag, he’s been up against it – and as usual, he’s found a solution. Still, motor racing’s sharpest player found new levels of topspin in his case for downscaling to Dorset. “This move is a poignant shift in our mission to race in remote, far-away places to highlight the effects of climate change,” is how he put it. “More increasingly, the issues we talk about are literally happening inour backyards, so it felt like the right time to bring the spotlight home, and help the army reduce its own carbon footprint. The world needs to move forward when it comes to the combustion engine and many other practices, and what better way to symbolise that than with a Jurassic-themed X Prix.”

The finalised climate change angle still needs refining for Dorset, it seems. But when I spoke to one of the team bosses, he acknowledged the English county might be lacking in the ‘extreme’ element, but returned with a demon slice of his own. “It’s really cool,” insisted Nico Rosberg. “If you want to have a big impact, you also need to have a big reach. That’s difficult when you only have races in far-away locations, but Sardinia activates the whole of Europe and Italy, and going to the UK does make a difference. It means journalists like you can touch the series, be on site, see what is happening and feel the excitement. It will helpwith our growth so I’m pretty excited about that.”


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