Back for its second season, Extreme E returned to Saudi Arabia for the Desert X Prix this weekend, held in a new location of NEOM in the northwest of the country.
Difficult weekend for Andretti United Extreme E in Senegal
Andretti United Extreme E had a difficult weekend at the Ocean X Prix, round 2 of Extreme E, which took place at Lac Rose in Senegal and highlighted the environmental issue of rising sea levels due to global warming. Team drivers Catie Munnings and Timmy Hansen put in a valiant effort but were struck with bad luck over the weekend, seeing the duo finish ninth.
The race week started well for the Anglo-American team which is co-owned by Michael Andretti, Zak Brown and Richard Dean. Indeed, Catie and Timmy set the quickest combined time out of all the teams during Friday’s free practice session, the drivers taking the challenging bumps in their stride in the all-electric SUV [the ODYSSEY 21].
However, Saturday morning’s qualifying session saw Andretti United Extreme E hit trouble when Timmy Hansen set out on the first lap. The Swede was making good progress until a heavy landing following a jump caused the car’s system to completely shut down. The mechanical issue cost the team approximately three minutes as the 29-year-old struggled to get the car back up and running. Eventually Hansen rebooted the car and did a brilliant job of returning the ODYSSEY 21 to the switch zone where he handed it over to team-mate Catie who went on to complete the session.
The team worked hard on the car in the break between sessions, adjusting the set-up and successfully fixing the mechanical issue. Catie and Timmy went on to post the combined fifth fastest time in Q2 but the time lost during the first qualifying session knocked AUXE out of contention for the semi-finals.
Sunday saw Andretti United Extreme E in the shootout alongside Acciona | Sainz XE Team and Segi TV Chip Ganassi Racing in a bid to gain valuable championship points. Hansen took to the wheel first, getting off to a rapid start. Carlos Sainz was hot on his heels, however, and soon overtook Timmy who struggled with the car’s set-up in the dunes. Timmy handed the car to Catie at the switch zone ahead of Sara Price in the Ganassi car who swapped with Kyle LeDuc. Catie put in a stellar effort to keep ahead of a charging LeDuc behind but halfway round, the American overtook and Catie crossed the line in third place.
After a difficult weekend, Andretti United Extreme E leave Senegal with a total of nine points and lie fourth in the overall championship standings with 37 points – just seven points behind JBXE. X44 are second with 57 points while Rosberg Racing top the leaderboard after two race victories.
Next in the Extreme E calendar is the championship’s Arctic X Prix which will be staged at Kangerlussuaq, Greenland (27-29 August).
Catie Munnings, Andretti United Extreme E driver commented: “The conditions have been tough and very different from those we had in Saudi where the bumps were a bit more predictable. You could see a huge difference between the two quali sessions with the number of ruts in the sand, and unfortunately neither Timmy or I felt we were able to push as hard as we normally like on the track. We were really unfortunate with the mechanical issue and luck hasn’t been our side which is sometimes the way things go in motorsport. We worked with our engineer and team to understand what could make the car handle better but the time lost in Q1 meant we were dependent on problems for others to be in with a chance of the semi-finals. Timmy and I will come back stronger for Greenland where we’ll be racing on gravel – a surface that we both know really well.”
Timmy Hansen, Andretti United Extreme E driver commented: “It’s been a tough weekend and even more disappointing after we were fastest in free practice on Friday. I had several jumps with the same sort of landing and then after one particular bump the car completely shut down after it hit the ground. Everything was going pretty well until that point so it was super unlucky for us. Fortunately after a couple of minutes, I managed to get everything restarted but that was hard to recover from – and the time loss proved too much. Then in today’s shootout, I couldn’t get the car dialled in and I kept fighting with the wheel. At the end of the day, these are still new cars so there’s lots to learn. Catie and I have had a chance to work with different set-ups and can go to the next race with even more data. There’s still three rounds to go and I’m confident we can be back fighting in the top three like we did in Saudi last time.”
Roger Griffiths, Andretti United Extreme E Team Principal commented: “It’s not been the weekend we had hoped for but that’s motorsport for you. We’ve already seen after two Extreme E races that anything can happen and the team shouldn’t feel too disappointed after Senegal as we’re still fourth in the championship and in a strong position. Catie and Timmy put in some super quick sector times but overall it didn’t come together when it was most important. Ultimately we were hindered by a mechanical issue and the time lost proved impossible to come back from. Now we will regroup in the break ahead of Greenland where we’ll aim to get back into the top three.”
Richard Dean, Andretti United Extreme E co-owner commented: “A valiant effort from both Catie and Timmy on what turned out to be a tricky event. The format of Extreme E qualifying favours consistency and with a mechanical issue in Q1, our chances of progressing to the semis were quickly diminished. Catie and Timmy are a talented duo who work really hard to be at the top of their game – both on and off races - and I’ve no doubt that Andretti United Extreme E will be back fighting for another podium very soon.”