Can Gutierrez and X44 carry a winning momentum into 2022?
X44 won the final race of the 2021 Extreme E season.
The inaugural season of Extreme E saw a close Championship battle between old F1 rivals Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg. Whilst not racing in Extreme E themselves, their respective teams, X44 and Rosberg X Racing went head to head against each other over the five round 2021 season. In the end - spoilers ahead - it was Rosberg X Racing who just managed to clinch the Championship with a fourth place finish at the final round in Dorset. But it was X44 who had dominated the weekend as they won qualifying, the final race of the year (also their long awaited first win of the season) and clinched the extra five points that were on offer for the team that went fastest in the Continental Traction Challenge.
All of this meant that X44 and Rosberg X Racing were tied on 155 points each following the final race, with the Championship decided on countback, thus giving the spoils of victory to Rosberg X Racing. But with such a close Championship fight, Rosberg X Racing don't have the luxury of resting on their laurels for 2022. In fact, they'll probably have to work even harder than last year if they want to successfully defend the title with other teams like Andretti United promising to be a force to be reckoned with in 2022.
Photo Credit: Extreme E Media Centre
X44 driver Cristina Gutierrez spoke with me following the final race in the South of England and noted the importance of finishing off the Extreme E season in such a strong way and why that momentum is vital to carry through into Season II:
"In qualifying, we have been the fastest team so that's really nice and it was an amazing job by the team and Seb and me. The problem was in the Semi-Final and Final because one day we broke something and another day we have really bad luck and finally, we needed to wait until the last race to win. So the important thing is to finish like that and then start the next season like this."
And should Sebastian Vettel join Extreme E?
Can Gutierrez and X44 succeed a second time around then and become 2022 Champions? If it wasn't for some bad luck, they might already have won the Championship in 2021 but Extreme E is known for putting its car through its pace in a...well extreme way. Chip Ganassi Racing is sadly a great example of how bad luck despite having excellent drivers can really hinder and implode your season and perfectly demonstrated in Sardinia how just one small piece of bad luck can undo your entire weekend. If Rosberg X Racing get a bit of bad luck coming their way, then we as fans might very well be in for another close Championship fight this year - with X44 right in the thick of it.
What do you think? Will X44 be able to beat Rosberg X Racing in 2022? Let me know in the comments below.