The implementation of hydrogen fuel in motorsport is accelerating as Extreme H, an off-road series from the organisers of Extreme E and Formula E, prepares to make its debut in 2025.
A recent announcement stated plans for Extreme H to become the first hydrogen off-road FIA World Championship in season two, marking a huge milestone for zero and low-emission technology in racing.
Extreme H will introduce a new bespoke off-road car, developed with some of the key partners from Extreme E including constructor Spark Racing Technology and battery supplier WAE Technologies.
Several characteristics of the Extreme H vehicle, which is gearing up for its first off-road test later this year, draw on lessons learned from the all-electric Odyssey 21.
‘At the beginning, when we started talking about the H car, we thought it would be just an evolution of the E,’ Spark motorsport director Pierre Prunin tells Racecar Engineering.
‘But we wanted to improve everything.’
Many of those improvements are based on redressing fundamental design elements of the Odyssey 21, such as its two-seater configuration.
According to Prunin, this is a hangover from a preliminary brief that Extreme E events would be held with two people sharing the cockpit: one navigating and the other driving towards checkpoints, Dakar Rally-style.
The organisers eventually opted for a standard qualifying and race format where the male and female driver pairings would take turns behind the wheel without a navigation partner.
‘That’s why the car has two seats,’ says Prunin. ‘And it explains why we ended up with a non-adjustable seat.’
As a central positioned single-seat car, Spark hopes the Extreme H will address the Odyssey 21’s inherent limitations and open the door to greater adjustability.
‘The seat, wheels and pedals are very adjustable,’ says Prunin. ‘It will have adjustable pedals that will improve massively the comfort, feeling and safety of the drivers because we know how the car will be used [from the start].’
Driver comfort blends into driver safety and the Extreme H car is being developed with standard-setting measures for hydrogen racing in mind.
The championship’s FIA blessing means that the global motorsport body is working hand-in-hand with Extreme H on crash testing and safety features.
This contrasts significantly to Extreme E, where…