Extreme H – Is this a left, liberal, ideological idea?

Geert Wilders, the incoming Dutch Prime Minister, was probably the most surprised given the result in the Netherlands elections late in 2023.  His Freedom party received one-in-four votes, unexpectantly propelling them to the fore to determine a coalition government for the next four years.  Key to Wilders victory, he stated in an interview, is his stand on both immigration as well as what he describes as ‘left, liberal, ideological issues’ which are hitting Dutch people, and business, in the pocket.

This is only just the start as 2024 will see the most elections to ever take place in world history.    Around four billion people across approximately 76 countries will take to the polls and not all will be fair.  There’s not likely to be any change in Russian, nor the Mexican, Bangladesh or Pakistan elections while those taking place in Taiwan, Brazil, the UK, the European Parliament and especially the US could see major shifts in government policy and direction.

A recent conversation I had with a Dutch CEO on the matter, confirmed a pattern is emerging that the Dutch people, voters, are getting tired of ‘sustainability’.  It’s not that they don’t believe in it, they are tired of it continuing to hit their pocket.  Utility prices are high, regulations, taxes and so on are now taking their toll and voters have had enough.  Hence the unexpected shift to the right and Wilders gaining power in the Netherlands.

It’s not too dissimilar here in New Zealand.  If we look at the bigger picture, the Labour Government was sent a blow by voters sick and tired by what could be given the description as ‘left, liberal, ideological ideas.’ Now we have a more ‘right’ three-party coalition Government already making sweeping changes given the mandate by the majority.

So, what has this to do with the FIA and Extreme H? 

Recently the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) announced plans to establish a joint Hydrogen Working Group to evaluate developments and potential applications for hydrogen within motorsport and wider mobility. 

Their objective will be to monitor the progression and development of hydrogen technology – both for the fuel cells and battery systems which will be used in Extreme H’s first-generation racing chassis – as well as hydrogen technology within race site infrastructure, transportation, charging, storage and management, and its safety implications.

It’s all working towards the first hydrogen-powered racing series – Extreme H, to take place in 2025 and they seem pretty confident with the intention that it will become an FIA World Championship from 2026.

The key question here is do motorsport fans really want this?  Is there a demand for this category or is this a left, liberal ideological idea? Formula E has a limited fan base, few motorsport fans want to talk about it, while the FIA didn’t even allow fans to watch Extreme E in person, rather restricting it to a TV audience.

We are not debating the merits of sustainable motorsport, rather stating that unless you have the ‘voters’ on board, your train ain’t leaving the station!

Benjamin Carrell is a freelance motorsport writer and currently edits talkmotorsport.co.nz. He writes for a number of Kiwi drivers and motorsport clubs. That's when he's not working in his horticultural day-job or training for the next road or mtb cycle race!


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