Nico Rosberg has celebrated a long and decorated career in motorsport and now the 2016 Formula 1 World Champion is heavily involved in a number of key racing projects aimed at promoting sustainability and equality.
As the founder of Rosberg Xtreme Racing, a team that has won both of the ground-breaking Extreme E races thus far, Nico knows the importance of gender balance and promoting environmental welfare when it comes to motorsport and its future.
Over the last few years, we have seen multiple new championships form that have challenged the norms of motorsport. From Formula E and Extreme E to W Series and Airspeeder, the success of these new series with a focus on equality and sustainability have forced more traditional series to innovate.
“Firstly, it's been amazing to not only see these new championships emerge but to be a part of their growth with my role as an early investor in Formula E and Team Founder in Extreme E,” Nico Rosberg tells Females in Motorsport. “I believe sustainability and innovation are all about collaboration and less about being forced to change.
“What we're now seeing is the likes of Formula 1 and WEC take inspiration from other series in terms of sustainable solutions, in the same way that Formula E, Extreme E and other new series have previously taken inspiration from more traditional series when they were being set-up. Motorsport is an ecosystem and currently it is a healthy one, which is great to see.”
For Nico, the decision to become involved with Extreme E - the electric SUV racing championship - was easy. The opportunity to unite two of his biggest drives made it an easy yes.
"I wanted to be involved,” he says. “Having worked with Alejandro [Agag] in Formula E, I was inspired by his vision to create a series built on a social purpose - something that has never been done before - and a series that showcases first-hand the damage we are doing to our planet, while also showcasing innovative solutions."
His team has won both of the events in 2021, taking victories at the Desert X Prix and Ocean X Prix. The championship’s regulations stipulate that there must be one male and one female driver per team, with Nico selecting Austrian Rally Championship winner Molly Taylor to represent the Rosberg Xtreme Racing squad. In fact, Molly told us earlier in the year that Nico reached out to her via the contact form on her website.
"Ha, I can confirm that's true!” Nico says. “When we were building RXR, there were two drivers who stood out to us and I can honestly say that those drivers were Johan [Kristoffersson] and Molly. Both have lots of experience and success in off-road racing and Molly has driven in multiple series across the world. The fact she was the first female winner of the Australian Rally Championship is mega, and away from racing, she is a huge advocate for equality, something that is a key part of our wider sustainability mission. We're incredibly proud to have her as a driver, and so far her performances in the car have been very impressive."
Extreme E has many positive messaging points, focusing on sustainability, equality and empowerment. This is something that Nico is keen to continue promoting, outside of the established championship activities and races.
"It comes back to the social purpose which the series is built on and that's a huge reason we're in Extreme E,” he says. “RXR exists to exceed in competition as it does in driving awareness and inspiring positive change. One way we do that is with our #DrivenByPurpose projects, which we undertake at each location the team visits.
“Each project focuses on an area of sustainability and issues facing a region or community. So far we have helped tackle deforestation in Aragon, Spain, by planting native trees in partnership with Life Terra, we’ve donated video and photography equipment to a female-led artisan workshop in Saudi Arabia with Turquoise Mountain, and collaborated with the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation and Little Sun for projects in Senegal."
Over his career spanning three decades now, Nico has witnessed many changes in the motorsport industry and, with series like Extreme E, issues like gender equality will continue to be addressed and rebalanced.
"We've made progress, but that progress needs to continue,” he says. “Across the motorsport, automotive and mobility sectors we've seen gender diversity increase - which is fantastic - and it's inspiring to be a part of Extreme E's gender-neutral approach to racing which I’m confident will help continue to drive further change."
However, in order to continue the progress, further steps must be taken to tackle perceptions and increase awareness through education.
"I think it's all about challenging perceptions and education,” he says. “Motorsport for many years has been male-dominated, and that brings with it unfair stereotypes of what the sport should look like and who should work in it.
“But I believe we're starting to alter how women in motorsport are perceived by creating a more welcoming and inclusive environment for all, not just in Extreme E but in other series as well, and I’m proud to see that happen.”
All images are courtesy of Extreme E