It’s a shame that the female drivers played supporting roles to the more experienced – and, frankly, faster – men. You could argue that this undermined the equality claims, and Agag was publicly riffing on ideas to fix it straight after the final. He will come up with something, and because it’s his trainset, the teams will have to live with it.
The climate change angle
The other pillar of Extreme E is environmental messaging. This was always going to be more problematic, from the diesel-engined St Helena onward. The crew at least ran as much as possible on just one of the two 57-litre Mirrlees engines on their way to the Red Sea in order to improve fuel efficiency, but offsetting carbon footprints remains tricky territory.
Before embarking for the desert, the teams, drivers and media assembled on the ship to listen to scientists and sustainability entrepreneurs deliver lectures of hope on climate change. Then there was a mass visit to a beach where turtles lay their eggs. These remarkable animals are under threat from rising sea levels, and here was that man Sainz walking up the beach with a black binbag picking up plastic and other waste. That was novel.
This was the much-heralded ‘legacy’ upon which Agag justifies Extreme E’s global travel and racing in remote and vulnerable areas of the world. The trouble was that the only concrete legacy I spotted was the cement dust being pumped out in clouds by the neighbouring factory. The beach visit was a publicity stunt; did Extreme E really leave the beach and the race site in Al’Ula in a better state than we found it, as Agag had vowed? I do wonder.