With just under two months to go before the new Extreme E series gets underway, former F1 world champion Jenson Button has said that electric-powered racing is the future of all motorsport.
The 41-year-old, who won the F1 title with Brawn in 2009, will compete for his own team called JBXE and cited his desire to play a part in the fight against climate change as one of his main motivations for entering.
"I can’t change the world on my own but I’m going to try and do my bit to raise awareness to the issues that we have," Button said in a video for BBC Sport. "I just thought Extreme E was a fantastic initiative. Great teams racing all around the world in places that have been affected by climate change, bringing awareness to those areas.
"All of the cars travel together on a ship and there are scientists on those ships studying those areas and hopefully helping us understand what we need to do to help the climate change."
Button began karting at the age of seven and went on to spend 18 seasons in Formula 1 before competing in Super GT, the World Endurance Championship, and the 24 Hours of Le Mans race, among others. Combustion-engine racing has been his life. However, having recently become a parent, the Englishman has a fresh perspective and admits there are more important factors he now considers above all else.
"As a parent you think of the future more than just now living in the moment, which has always been my life, and you do think about the future more and what your kids are going to have when they grow up and what we’re going to leave to them.
"Road cars in the UK in a decade or so; you won’t be able to buy a petrol car, so they’ll be obsolete. Racing a Formula 1 car with a petrol engine will be pointless so the future will be electric in every form of motorsport."
One of the main complaints of electric-powered racing is the lack of noise produced by the engines. But behind the wheel, Button insists that any nostalgia of the roaring V8 is short lived when you experience the power of electric.
"That initial touch of the throttle when you feel that power, all of the thoughts about the sound of a V8 go out the window because of the feeling you get from electric-powered vehicles. It’s definitely the future and I’m definitely going to be working on getting an electric car."
The 2021 Extreme E Championship gets underway in Saudi Arabia on April 3 and features male and female drivers competing for 10 teams in off-road Electric 'E-SUVS'.