Radical off-road racing series Extreme E showcases motor racing in some of the most remote corners of the planet that are impacted by climate change. The underlying objective is to highlight global challenges and inspire the next generation.

On Thursday 27th June, onboard the series’ St Helena vessel, it was revealed that a new racing series is about to be born: Extreme H. It is a first-of-its-kind hydrogen racing series that showcases hydrogen technology in a competitive racing environment. The organisers claim it represents a step forward in the transition to clean energy.

A newly launched vehicle – the Pioneer 25 racing car – has been designed to demonstrate the performance capabilities of hydrogen fuel cells.

The Pioneer 25 itself has been designed and manufactured by Spark Racing Technology, and is equipped with a hydrogen fuel cell from Symbio.

Symbio will provide a 75kW hydrogen fuel cell, replacing the battery as the principal energy source seen in Extreme E. The hydrogen fuel cell powers the battery pack that is produced and supported trackside by Fortescue ZERO.

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Just Auto’s Frankie Youd heard from CEO Alejandro Agag, team owner Carlos Sainz Snr, development driver Hedda Hosås, and championship driver Catie Munnings, on-board the St Helena ship in front of Tower Bridge, London.

‘Pioneer 25’, the world’s first hydrogen motorsport race car, is unveiled by Extreme H aboard the St Helena ship in front of Tower Bridge, London by CEO Alejandro Agag, rally legend (and team owner) Carlos Sainz Snr, championship driver Catie Munnings and development driver Hedda Hosås (photo credit: Jack Hall / PA)

Could you give us a sense of what Extreme H is going to be like?

Alejandro Agag (AA): The advantage of Extreme H is that it is an evolution from Extreme E. We have had to make so much work to make Extreme E work. Those of you who were involved in Extreme E know that in the beginning, sometimes the cars were breaking, or we were having some software problems; we were having many different challenges. We also had to figure out how to deal with the tasks we faced.

All those lessons are the lessons that we’re going to use to then go smoothly into Extreme H. The races are going to look pretty much like Extreme E races, but with hydrogen. I think we’re going to be the only ones racing fully on hydrogen for quite a bit.

We are really happy to announce that Red Bull joins Extreme H. We’re super happy with a brand that has made a revolution in our sport. They joined Formula One and they went to win championships in Formula One. They are into all other kinds of sports that represent adventure, that represent innovation, and now they join Extreme H. We welcome Red Bull to the adventure.

Why hydrogen?

AA: There are many reasons. When you look at the world around us, it’s a world different from the world five years ago. When we launched Extreme E, climate was at the top of the world’s concerns. Today, the climate on Earth is kind of going to a second or third place.

Of course, there are other very important problems in the world. There are wars, there are different problems in the economy, etc. However, the world’s climate is not, we feel, at the centre of things like it was five years ago.

On the other hand, the arrival of AI is going to multiply the needs for energy that we’re going to have in the world. Therefore, we are going to need every source of energy and every way to supply energy to the world. We will need renewables. We will need solar. We will need wind. We will need nuclear. We will need fossil fuels for a long while; hopefully, we will reduce the use of fossil fuels eventually, but we will need every single source of energy. Hydrogen can be the enabler, can be the carrier, particularly of renewable energy all around the world.

This launch is not just about a new vehicle; it’s about pioneering the future of sustainable motorsport.

Solar is when the sun is shining, wind is when it’s windy, maybe sometimes at night. Many times, we waste that energy. Hydrogen can be the solution to store, to carry the energy and to transform the whole energy system.

This launch is not just about a new vehicle; it’s about pioneering the future of sustainable motorsport. Hydrogen fuel cells offer a remarkable opportunity to reduce our carbon footprint and promote clean energy solutions, and we are proud to lead this charge with Extreme H.

Could you discuss the technology in the vehicle?

AA: I want to thank Red Bull, and Spark racing technology. It was a huge technology challenge to create this this car. Symbio also for the fuel cell; this is a hydrogen fuel cell car, it is powered by an electric motor.

I think that the technology in this car is really at the highest level. We’re going to race with gas hydrogen. I think we’re going to be the only ones racing on hydrogen, in a full hydrogen championship for three of four years.

What are your first impressions of the car?

Carlos Sainz Snr (CS): This is the first time I’ve seen the car – I’ve only seen some pictures. With the testing, from what I hear, it is going quite well, and we were in Extreme E and, we will be next year in Extreme H with our team. We will support this new idea.

We will support hydrogen and the message which is more important, as Alejandro has said, about the possibilities for hydrogen. I think motorsport cannot look somewhere else, and motorsport has to be involved in hydrogen. I’m super happy that he brought forward the idea.

I think motorsport cannot look somewhere else, and motorsport has to be involved in hydrogen.

From the driver’s point of view, I think the car is going to be better. We faced problems at the beginning of Extreme E. I think it was a continuous learning process; I know already that the car is going to be much better. We will face different issues, the challenge is big, but what is motorsport without challenge? Hydrogen is a super challenge for everybody, and racing in a series of hydrogen is a great opportunity for motorsport to continue sending strong messages.

Hedda, you have test driven this vehicle, what are the next steps?

Hedda Hosås (HH): I’m very proud to be the test driver for Extreme H. We have been testing several times in France, and we’ll be going to Scotland to test on our official Extreme H tracks.

It’ll be very exciting to see the times from the Extreme H vehicle compared to the Extreme E vehicle. It’s been a pleasure to work with Extreme H; they’ve been working really hard on this project, there are exciting times ahead.

How do you think driving this vehicle will differ from the ones in Extreme E?

Katie Munnings (KM): I’m really excited. I think improvements have been made to the suspension, the geometry and it’s at a lower centre of gravity. I think a lot of the limiting factors that we had are going to be taken away.

Of course, as Carlos says, there’ll be new challenges, but I think it’s going to really improve the level of racing that we have. Hopefully we won’t have tipping and I think we’re going to be able to carry more corner speeds.

We’re going to have different problems, but I’m excited also to sit in the middle of the car. It’s the first race car like this in an off-road environment that I’ve sat in, where you’re in the middle.

Joining Extreme E from the first race in the first season, we were all adapting so much. I remember in Saudi Arabia, the format changed overnight with the dust, and we had to, as drivers and as teams, come up with solutions very quickly. It wasn’t at all stagnant. It’s not a championship that’s stayed the same and nothing changes and gets repetitive. I think this is innovative, and it’s pushing the boundaries every day that we go to track.

As a driver, that’s motivational to be a part of. You want to be at the forefront of technology. You want to be in there creating the future of technology in motorsport. I think to be a driver in a championship like that is incredibly motivational.