Reigning Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton has made his first move into the role of team ownership, with the announcement that he is behind a new entry in the Extreme E championship.
The new series will see drivers off-road racing in electric SUV cars at a series of venues around the world including the Arctic, the Himalayas, the Sahara desert, the Amazon rainforest and islands in the Indian Ocean
The series was announced last year by McLaren sporting director Gil de Ferran and Formula E boss Alejandro Agag.
Hamilton has now confirmed that he is setting up the X44 team to compete in the inaugural season. However, he will not be behind the wheel.
“It’s an exciting new project and it will be fun to have a different role from being the team driver," he said this week.
“I’m looking forward to the team taking part in this new series and I think it’s incredible that we can do so whilst raising awareness about the climate crisis.”
Already well known for his support of environmental and ecological causes, Hamilton said it was this aspect that had appealed to him when it came to entering a team.
"The Extreme E championship will be not only raising awareness of some of the most critical environmental issues facing our planet," he said.
"[It will also be] doing something about it through working with local charitable organisations to leave behind no trace and a long-lasting legacy of change.
"As Founder of X44, I am looking forward to building my team around important value s such as sustainability and equality.
"Not only will we visit remote locations facing the front line of the climate crisis, we will also work closely with these locations and leading climate experts to share our knowledge and leave behind a positive legacy in each location which goes far beyond the racetrack.
"None of us are perfect and we all have improvements to make," he noted. "But I am excited to use our platform to highlight the most serious issues facing our planet and the solutions we can all be part of."
An early rendering of the car's livery suggests it will pick up the purple accent of his most recent F1 helmet designs.
Currently the X44 entry has not announced manufacturer support and will likely use a customised 550bhp ODYSSEY 21 E-SUV body. Each car will have one male and one female driver.
Other confirmed entries include Formula E teams champion Techeetah, Andretti/United Autosports, Chip Ganassi Racing and the Mercedes affiliated HWA. Other entries have been announced by Abt, QEV and Veloce.
“We are thrilled to welcome Lewis Hamilton and his X44 team to Extreme E,' said Agag, who is also the founding CEO of the Extreme E series.
“Lewis is one of the most successful drivers of all time, and we’re all excited to see how his X44 team performs on and off the race track under his incredible guidance.
“Like us, Lewis is hugely passionate about motorsport, but also shares our belief that we can use sport to highlight subjects which are vital to the world, such as climate change and equality."
The five-round maiden series is expected to launch in January in Senegal. It will be held without spectators, but will be broadcast live on TV and social media,