The vehicle is called an Odyssey 21. It’s an electric SUV and at capacity the battery can put out 470kw. That’s at least 630 horses all replaced by one battery. You’d struggle to yoke all those geegees to an Odyssey so it’s just as well they sorted that out really. If it was a chariot race, the poo would be a big obstacle… They’ve made these incredible batteries instead.
They are universal across all teams. Developed and designed by Williams Advanced Engineering. The parts are standardised by Spark Racing Technology. The tyres are hard to ignore. Huge incredible rolling wonders and my goodness they take a pounding. Continental have performance-optimised these tyres so one tyre can carry these remarkable machines through all terrains – from freezing tundra to soft red desert sand to our current conditions right here in the south of this hard island: compacted dust and scrub. The course even has a water feature. In keeping with the ethos here, these tyres are made with thought for their impact. Recycled materials. Natural materials. Care.
If you’re going to add a new fixture to the racing calendar, do it for a reason. Much as I love that these little wonders can shoot from 0 to 62mph in 4.5 seconds, I love more that the whole ethos behind this event is care for the world we are racing through. And gender equality in racing. One woman and one man race on each team. They swap halfway through. The changeover is part of the skill of it. And these thoughtfully made and environmentally balanced cars are trying to drive a change in how we even think about racing and events in general. I’ve never been a big one for Formula 1 – it always smells brashly of oil and money – but this race interests me. With this team we hear phrases like “race for the planet” all the time and it reminds us that we are under time pressure to make change. All of us here on site are actively encouraged to consider our actions and our impact on the world. Even small everyday things. We all bring our own bowls and cutlery and cups and flasks to site. If we don’t have them we can’t get food or drink. No paper, no plastic. We wash them up, and we are all careful about water usage doing so. It’s a little thing, but change has to start with little things. Maybe we will all go home and carry that habit back with us. Change… And all these workshops I’ve been running when I’m not acting or doing this – they all align. The universe is speaking to me in my life and the opportunities that come. Getting young adults to think actually how much power they consume when they leave the telly on overnight, or stand in the shower for an hour – it makes me think about it too. And then these wonderful races – it’s all the same world really. We are driving change through changing ourselves and changing each other.
Yes I’m having to use my car a great deal, but even so I’m aware of every mile, as how could I not be with so many income streams revolving around sustainability? Hell, I’m even selecting gears with fuel usage in mind, and it’s rare that I go in any direction empty of either passengers or items or both. Trips are multi-purpose as often as they can be. It would be so awesome to be able to do my role in a dedicated electric vehicle, and perhaps in years to come that will be possible – I could carry my own hydrogen battery for recharge in remote areas. There aren’t any roadside charging points in Sardinia.
So many thoughts and behaviours shifting through my odd alignment of lovely jobs. These are just my changes in thought from this connection I have forged somewhere at the bottom of the pecking order for a very special and right-headed event.
It streams on the internet live, tomorrow and then again on Saturday and Sunday. The bigger an audience it reaches the bigger a change it can make. All these incredible humans, sharpened to a point, making something they care about for others to watch, with an eye on the bigger picture. The legacy. They want to leave every place they visit in a better way than when they arrived.
Dad raced many things in his day, and this work connects me to his speedfreak memory, just as it connects me to many lovely international people, all working hard in stifling heat. This work makes me more thoughtful about my impact on everything. This work makes me adjust my behaviours. And it’s nothing if not varied.
I feel terrific pride to have been asked to be part of this passionate team. Somewhere the ghost of my father is simultaneously baffled and supportive, I hope. And maybe proud…