The inaugural Extreme E race gets underway on Sunday with all-electric SUV’s racing around the desert in Saudi Arabia, and with it comes a familiar Formula One rivalry.
With a mix of rallying/rallycross/Formula E – this jumbled up series definitely looks exciting on paper, with three Formula One champions involved, including seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, the only driver to this day to have beaten Hamilton at Mercedes.
The brainchild of Formula E CEO Alejandro Agag, the series aims to highlight the impact of climate change, while promoting sustainability and the adoption of electric vehicles to help protect the planet, and also tackles gender equality within motorsport.
And as well as that, we potentially get to see the games begin again between team owners of #44 and Rosberg X Racing.
How to watch Extreme E as Lewis Hamilton’s team look to win opener
It was a turbulent relationship for Hamilton and Rosberg over their four years together as team-mates at Mercedes, and the friendship between the pair quickly turned into a feud in their first season partnered together in 2014.
Relations didn’t much improve between the two, however it is still considered the best rivalry in Formula One over the 2010s.
Mercedes dominated the 2014 season under new V6 hybrid regulations, with Hamilton picking up his second world championship title, however throughout the season it quickly became apparent all was not harmonious between the pair.
Their hunger to win on track often led to high tensions at the team. It occasionally spilled over between the two – with memorable collisons like Spa 2014 and Spain and Austria 2016.
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But it was Monaco 2014 that saw a real change in their relationship. Hamilton was faster than his team-mate in all three practice sessions, but during the closing stages of qualifying, with Rosberg on provisional pole, the German ran deep at Mirabeau – prompting yellow flags with Hamilton forced to abort his final flying lap.
When Hamilton was asked: “Did he screw you over?” He replied: “Potentially.” However, the stewards cleared Rosberg of any wrongdoing and he started on pole position.
When told that Hamilton was not happy, the team boss Toto Wolff said: “If you are P2 and your team-mate is P1 there is no reason to be happy. I don’t think anybody does [what Rosberg did] deliberately in modern Formula One. He missed his braking, which was in order to beat his team-mate, and he took the exit. That’s it. There is nothing to add.”
Rosberg meanwhile said: “Of course I’m sorry for Lewis, I didn’t know where he was. Yeah, it’s not great. I thought the track would ramp up and someone else could beat my time. I’m happy it worked out. Pole at home is fantastic – it couldn’t be better.”
Rosberg eventually won his home race, with Hamilton second – but all eyes were on the pair on the podium as they refused to even shake hands, with Hamilton not keen to celebrate afterwards.
In the heat of the moment, Hamilton declared “We are not friends, we are colleagues.”
Over the next few years we saw hats being thrown between the pair in the cool down room, a double team DNF’s due to a collision and many explosive interviews between the two.
In 2016 Rosberg won the title, before retiring from the sport less than a week later, with Valtteri Bottas coming in at Mecedes to steady the ship.
However, five years have passed, and both drivers have matured throughout the years.
Hamilton has gone on to win four more titles, has become an activist on climate change and equal rights, whilst Rosberg has settled down with his second child and concentrated more on punditry than racing.
But now the pair will be reunited again in a battle on track, with five off-road races in Extreme E which will span over four continents with their two drivers at the helm.
Neither Rosberg nor Hamilton will be competing, unlike Jenson Button, but both may have a slight feeling of unfinished business coming into Extreme E, with the competitive racer in them surely desperate to beat the other in this new form of motorsport.