Hamilton ready to drive change as Extreme E team owner

FILE PHOTO: Formula One F1 - Portuguese Grand Prix - Algarve International Circuit, Portimao, Portugal - October 25, 2020 Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton celebrates after winning the race Pool via REUTERS/Jose Sena Goulao

LONDON (Reuters) - Six times Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton looked forward on Tuesday to driving change, and accelerating a push for diversity and sustainability, as a team owner when the Extreme E electric off-road series starts in March.

The Briton will be up against some familiar faces, with former Mercedes F1 team mate and rival Nico Rosberg entering his own outfit while McLaren boss Zak Brown is involved in another.

"I’ve always wanted to have my own team, I just never knew when it would be," Hamilton, who took a record 92nd Formula One win at Sunday's Portuguese Grand Prix and is set for a seventh title, told a series presentation.

"When I heard about this I jumped right at it, because of what the series means, what the series is going to do. It’s going to be quite powerful, I think."

Extreme E aims to highlight climate change and promote sustainability with races in some of the world's most remote and harsh environments that are already suffering from global warming and pollution.

The five races will be held in the Saudi Arabian deserts, Senegal, Greenland, Brazilian rain forest and Argentine glaciers of Tierra del Fuego, the latter replacing a planned round in the Nepalese Himalayas.

"It gives an opportunity for me to able to merge my love for motor racing together with my love for the planet," said Hamilton.

"It’s going to keep people talking about the climate issue and inspiring us to take action... to have a championship series that will address traditional ways of racing, and the negative impact motorsports does have on the planet, and offer an alternative."

Each team will have a male and female driver and Hamilton said his would also aim to provide opportunities for those from more diverse backgrounds.

Series founder Alejandro Agag said having Hamilton and 2016 world champion Rosberg as rival team owners was a big boost for Extreme E's profile and he expected both to attend races.

"This puts the competition on a different level," he told Reuters.

"Having Lewis and Nico makes so much easier our job of raising awareness about the problems of climate change and pollution."

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Toby Davis)

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