|P.o.B.||Roehampton, Greater London, UK|
|D.o.B.||9 January 1987|
|Date of Death||Unknown|
|Début||2014 Beijing ePrix|
|First Win||2014 Putrajaya ePrix|
|Formula E Career|
|Entries||92 (92 Starts)|
|Team||Jaguar TCS Racing|
Sam Bird, born 9 January 1987, is a British racing driver, who competes for Envision Virgin Racing in the 2019/20 ABB FIA Formula E Championship. Consistently competitive and unlucky, Bird has been a title contender in almost every season, although his best shot in the inaugural 2014/15 campaign ultimately fell apart in spite of a last minute victory at the 2015 London ePrix II. A similar fate would befall his second title challenge in the 2017/18 season as the Brit went toe-to-toe with Jean-Éric Vergne in New York City.
During the 2015/16 season, Bird remained a threat for the occasional victory, although the new DS Virgin DSV-01 proved to be too much of a handful. A single victory that season came in Buenos Aires, with Bird retained at the end of the season.
2016/17 would see Bird claim a double victory in New York City, although an inconsistent season, hampered by a poor qualifying record, ultimately left him out of the title fight. His victories, however, were enough to see the Brit earn another season with DS Virgin Racing, with Bird partnered with Alex Lynn for the 2017/18 season, and would end the season with two more wins.
Bird would complete a fifth full FE campaign in 2018/19, with Virgin signing Robin Frijns to join the Brit as they became a customer Audi squad for the season. The Brit quickly emerged as a title contender, picking up an early win in Santiago, only for his title bid to fade as he failed to finish on the podium for the rest of the campaign.
Bird made his name in karting, before earning a scholarship drive after a successful début season in Formula BMW. After a few seasons of racing in Formula Renault and Formula Three, Bird was rewarded with a test for Williams F1, ultimately becoming the main test driver for Mercedes GP at the young driver tests. Bird has also competed in GP2 and the World Series by Renault.
Formula E History
Virgin Racing announced that Bird and Jaime Alguersuari would be driving for them in Formula E in early 2014, the first driver pair to be announced. Bird's start to the season was almost perfect, with a victory at the second ePrix of the season in Putrajaya. A retirement in Punta del Este, along with a pitstop penalty in Buenos Aires cost Bird valuable points to take the lead in the championship, but he remained in contention for the title after Miami.
His form then took a nose dive, as a mixture of misfortune and mistakes (both by Bird and Virgin Racing) saw him tumble to being one of the dark horses of the Championship. Solid points finishes in Monaco and Berlin were countered by retirements in Long Beach and Moscow. By the time Formula E rolled back into Britain, Bird was in an effective fight for fourth, but still retained hopes of the title.
He headed into the season ending double header in London needing a perfect result from both races, but fell short after a poor qualifying for the First London ePrix. Regardless, Bird battled with his nearest championship rival Nicolas Prost throughout the race, before ending the season perfectly the following afternoon. Sunday saw Bird qualify fourth, with the Brit also missing out on FanBoost at his home race. Yet, Bird finally got the result he deserved all season, using a strategy that allowed him to push the leading cars hard in the second half of the race to win the Second Visa London ePrix, after Stéphane Sarrazin was penalised.
Bird and Jean-Éric Vergne were confirmed as the drivers for DS Virgin Racing in 2015/16, as the team built their first powertrain for the series. The car featured two motors and was, by far, the heaviest car in the field, hampering the ability for Bird to throw the car around. That said, Bird would claim second in Putrajaya, retire while leading Punta del Este, before taking pole and victory in Buenos Aires.
Unfortunately for Bird, the rest of the season would not go to plan, as he recorded three sixth places on the trot, two from having started from pole. An eleventh place at the 2016 Berlin ePrix ended any hopes for Bird to win the Championship, and at the season finale in London, the Brit could only muster a seventh place finish.
Season III: Promise Returns?
Once again retained by DS Virgin, Bird was partnered with WTCC Champion José María López for season three, with both drivers taking part at the 2016 Donington Test. Bird, with more experience in the Formula E car, which shared the same philosophy as the previous season, got more pace out of the car over the six days before the quartet of DS Virgins were shipped to Hong Kong for the season opener.
It would be a slow start to the season for Bird, although he quickly reversed a non-score in Hong Kong with a second in Marrakech. Bird would then retire from two of the next three rounds, standing on the podium in Mexico City, before claiming the fastest lap during the 2017 Paris ePrix. A double seventh place finish in Berlin followed, leaving Bird outside of the top five in the Championship.
However, when the field rolled into New York for the first time, it instantly became clear that Bird, a temporary teammate Alex Lynn, were the men to beat. While it was the debuting Lynn who claimed pole for the first New York ePrix, it was Bird who claimed victory, cruising home to record his first win of the season. He would follow that performance up with a dominant display in the second race of the weekend, claiming pole and victory.
Those victories gave Bird an outside shot at the title, although he would need to claim maximum points in the two Montreal races to do so, regardless of anyone else. His campaign came to an end when he failed to claim pole for the first race, although the Brit still claimed strong finishes in the ePrix themselves, claiming fifth and fourth respectively.
Bird and DS Virgin Racing agreed a contract for the Brit to drive for them during the 2017/18 season, with Bird once again leading the team. He would be partnered with Alex Lynn for the season, the youngster being promoted from the team's reserve roster. Regardless, Bird would go on to make a strong start to the season, claiming victory with a battling performance against ex-teammate Vergne in Hong Kong.
Unfortunately for Bird his form did not carry over into the second race of the season, although the Brit still held the Championship lead heading into Marrakech. There Bird would finish on the podium, but lose the Championship lead to Felix Rosenqvist as the Swede claimed his second victory of the season, with Bird's car suddenly losing power mid-race while running in second. The Brit would then lose another place in the table as Vergne claimed victory in 2018 Santiago E-Prix, although Bird did manage to score a fifth place and fastest lap.
Bird's scoring run would come to an end in Mexico City as the Brit was knocked out of contention by Nicolas Prost, before bouncing back with a podium in Punta del Este. The Brit then scored an excellent victory in Rome, pressuring Rosenqvist into a race ending mistake, putting the Brit back into title contention. A controversial race in Paris followed, with Bird slamming into the back of André Lotterer in the final corner of the race to claim third, the result of the German running out of power and moving into the middle of the track to block the chasing pack.
A miserable day in Berlin followed for Bird, the DS powertrain simply unsuited to the long Temphelhofring layout, before the Brit just kept his title hopes alive with a podium at the 2018 Zürich E-Prix. Indeed, with two races to go Bird was 23 points behind Vergne in the Championship hunt, and needed to finish ahead of the Frenchman in the 2018 New York City E-Prix I to stand any hope of taking the crown. Both would start at the back of the field after issues in qualifying, although Vergne would ultimately snatch the crown in fifth place, having battled past Bird as he did so, with Bird ending the day in ninth. Indeed, the DS powertrain had again been punished for its inefficiency on a longer circuit, an issue that was further compounded on the final day of the season as Bird lost second in the Championship to Lucas di Grassi by a single point.
Bird would remain with Virgin Racing for the 2018/19 season, with the British squad switching to become customers of Audi after losing their deal with DS at the end of the 2017/18 campaign. He was to be partnered by Audi factory racer Robin Frijns, with both performing well in the 2018 Valencia Test using the same powertrain as the factory Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler squad.
The season opened with Bird battling the two factory Audis in Ad Diriyah, although the Brit ultimately missed out on points. The Brit subsequently swept to pole at the following round in Marrakech, despite the fact that he was carrying diffuser damage after Tom Dillmann smashed into the back of his car in the pitlane. There would be more drama for Bird during the race, surviving a barge from Vergne into the first corner, although the #2 Virgin would ultimately slip down to third come the end of the race.
The 2019 Santiago E-Prix followed, and would see Bird produce his best performance of the season, fighting into Super Pole before claiming third early on. The Brit subsequently lunged past Pascal Wehrlein to secure second, before strategic use of Attack Mode carried him past Sébastien Buemi to claim the victory. However, his hopes of building on that performance were undermined in Mexico City, with a failure in qualifying meaning the Brit's entire weekend was ruined.
Bird's title hopes took a further blow in Hong Kong, despite fighting for victory throughout the race. Indeed, the Brit would even cross the line in Hong Kong in first place, only to be slapped with a post-race penalty for causing a collision with André Lotterer, which had seen the Brit shred the back wheel of the DS Techeetah when fighting for the lead on the penultimate lap. Bird was hence dumped back to sixth, before being taken out during the opening stages of the 2019 Sanya E-Prix two weeks later.
That was the start of a four race pointless run for the Brit, with Bird only returning to the points with a ninth place finish in Berlin, his place in the top two qualifying groups a major factor in his poor form. However, a strong weekend in Bern in mixed conditions saw Bird score a fourth place finish, with a stunning move on Maximilian Günther the stand-out moment. Yet, that would not be enough to keep Bird in the title hunt heading to the season finale in New York City, the Brit arriving in the Big Apple some 61 points behind Vergne, with 58 points left to fight for.
The final two races in New York saw Bird do his best to support teammate Frijns' bid for the title, although the Dutchman's fight was over after the opening race. Bird would subsequently go on to claim fourth in the season ending race as Frijns claimed victory, getting stuck in a queue behind Alexander Sims, leaving the Brit in ninth place in the Championship with 85 points to his name.
A Sixth Sense
Bird and Frijns were retained by Virgin for a second consecutive season in 2019/20, with the squad once again opting to use customer Audi powertrains. The pair subsequently performed well at the 2019 Valencia Test, with Bird and Frijns both out-pacing the two factory cars during qualifying runs.
In July 2020, rumours began circulating that Bird would be ending his six year partnership with the Virgin outfit to switch to Panasonic Jaguar Racing. The following week, Bird's move to the Grove-based squad was confirmed.
Full Formula E Record
Shown below are a series of tables outlining Sam Bird's career in Formula E in statistical form.
Formula E Entries
The list below includes all of the teams and cars, as well as overall finishing positions for Sam Bird during their FE career:
|Sam Bird's Overall Formula E Record|
|2014/15||Virgin Racing||2||Spark-Renault SRT_01E||5th||113|
|2015/16||DS Virgin Racing||2||DS Virgin DSV-01||4th||88|
|2016/17||DS Virgin Racing||2||DS Virgin DSV-02||4th||122|
|2017/18||DS Virgin Racing||2||DS Virgin DSV-03||3rd||143|
|2018/19||Envision Virgin Racing||2||Audi e-tron FE05||9th||85|
|2019/20||Envision Virgin Racing||2||Audi e-tron FE06|
Below is a table showing Sam Bird's full Formula E record.
|FIA Formula E Championship Record|
Videos and Images:
- Henry Mineur, 'Sam Bird 2012-3', wikimedia.org, (Wikimedia, 30/06/2012), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sam_Bird#mediaviewer/File:Sam_Bird_2012-3.JPG, (Accessed 01/07/2015)
- 'Driver's Club:Sam Bird', fiaformulae.com, (FIA Formula E, 2015), http://www.fiaformulae.com/en/drivers-club/sam-bird.aspx, (Accessed 01/07/2015)
- Sam Smith, 'Bird, Frijns to Remain at Envision Virgin for 2019-20', e-racing365.com, (John Dagys Media, LLC., 11/06/2019), https://e-racing365.com/formula-e/bird-frijns-to-remain-at-envision-virgin-for-2019-20/, (Accessed 11/06/2019)
- 'Champion Vergne victorious as Audi scoops the teams' title in New York finale', fiaformulae.com, (FIA Formula E, 15/07/2018), http://www.fiaformulae.com/en/news/2018/july/champion-vergne-victorious-as-audi-scoops-the-teams-title-in-new-york-finale/, (Accessed 16/07/2018)
- 'Bird holds off Buemi for BA win', fiaformulae.com, (FIA Formula E, 06/02/2016), http://fiaformulae.com/en/news/2016/february/bird-holds-off-buemi-for-ba-win.aspx, (Accessed 22/03/2016)
- 'DS VIRGIN RACING CONFIRM NEW LINE UP FOR 2016/17 FORMULA E SEASON: JOSE MARIA LOPEZ TO PARTNER BRITISH DRIVER SAM BIRD', fiaformulae.com, (FIA Formula E, 07/07/2016), http://fiaformulae.com/en/news/2016/july/ds-virgin-racing-confirm-new-line-up-for-201617-fia-formula-e-season/, (Accessed 08/07/2016)
- 'Bird flies high with New York double', fiaformulae.com, (FIA Formula E, 16/07/2017), http://www.fiaformulae.com/en/news/2017/july/bird-flies-high-with-new-york-double/, (Accessed 17/07/2017)
- 'Lynn joins Bird for full-time drive at DS Virgin', fiaformulae.com, (FIA Formula E, 05/09/2017), http://www.fiaformulae.com/en/news/2017/september/lynn-joins-bird-for-full-time-drive-at-ds-virgin/, (Accessed 05/09/2017)
- Sam Smith, 'Bird to Remain at Virgin Despite BMW Approach', e-racing365.com, (John Dagys Media, LLC., 25/07/2018), https://e-racing365.com/formula-e/bird-to-stay-at-virgin-despite-bmw-approach/, (Accessed 18/08/2018)
- 'Bird storms to victory in sweltering Santiago showdown', fiaformulae.com, (FIA Formula E, 26/01/2019), https://www.fiaformulae.com/en/news/2019/january/race-report-santiago-2019, (Accessed 27/01/2019)
- 'Sam Bird seals victory in the Putrajaya ePrix', fiaformulae.com, (FIA Formula E, 22/11/2014), http://www.fiaformulae.com/en/news/2014/november/sam-bird-seals-victory-in-the-putrajaya-eprix.aspx (Accessed 01/07/2015)
- 'Prost powers to first Formula E win', fiaformulae.com, (FIA Formula E, 14/03/2015), http://www.fiaformulae.com/en/news/2015/march/prost-powers-to-first-formula-e-win.aspx, (Accessed 27/04/2015)
- 'Bird hails ‘unbelievable’ end to season', fiaformulae.com, (FIA Formula E, 28/06/2015), http://fiaformulae.com/en/news/2015/june/bird-hails-unbelievable-end-to-season.aspx, (Accessed 01/07/2015)
- 'Jean-Eric Vergne moves to DS Virgin Racing', fiaformulae.com, (FIA Formula E, 08/08/2015), http://fiaformulae.com/en/news/2015/august/jean-eric-vergne-moves-to-ds-virgin-racing.aspx, (Accessed 08/08/2015)
- 'Buemi to the max in Beijing', fiaformulae.com, (FIA Formula E, 24/10/2015),http://fiaformulae.com/en/news/2015/october/buemi-wins-swusp-beijing-eprix.aspx, (Accessed 25/10/2015)
- 'BUEMI AND DI GRASSI CHARGE UP THE ORDER, BUT IT’S PROST WHO LEADS THE WAY', fiaformulae.com, (FIA Formula E, 02/07/2016), http://fiaformulae.com/en/news/2016/july/prost-wins-in-style-as-di-grassi-inches-closer-to-title/, (Accessed 03/07/2016)
- 'Buemi magnificent in Marrakesh', fiaformulae.com, (FIA Formula E, 12/11/2016), http://www.fiaformulae.com/en/news/2016/november/buemi-magnificent-in-marrakesh/, (Accessed 12/11/2016)
- 'Buemi hands Renault e.dams emotional Paris win', fiaformulae.com, (FIA Formula E, 20/05/2017), http://www.fiaformulae.com/en/news/2017/may/buemi-hands-renault-edams-emotional-paris-win/, (Accessed 21/05/2017)
- 'Bird soars to historic Qualcomm New York City ePrix win', fiaformulae.com, (FIA Formula E, 15/07/2017), http://www.fiaformulae.com/en/news/2017/july/bird-soars-to-historic-qualcomm-new-york-city-eprix-win/, (Accessed 18/07/2017)
- 'Vergne victorious, Di Grassi wins title', fiaformulae.com, (FIA Formula E, 30/07/2017), http://www.fiaformulae.com/en/news/2017/july/vergne-victorious-di-grassi-wins-title/, (Accessed 30/07/2017)
- 'Bird clinches victory in Hong Kong', fiaformulae.com, (FIA Formula E, 02/12/2017), http://www.fiaformulae.com/en/news/2017/december/bird-clinches-victory-in-hong-kong/, (Accessed 16/12/2017)
- 'Rosenqvist victorious in 2018 ABB FIA Formula E Marrakesh E-Prix', fiaformulae.com, (FIA Formula E, 13/01/2018), http://www.fiaformulae.com/en/news/2018/january/rosenqvist-victorious-in-2018-abb-fia-formula-e-marrakesh-e-prix/, (Accessed 13/01/2018)
- 'Vergne steals the show in epic Santiago E-Prix', fiaformulae.com, (FIA Formula E, 03/02/2018), http://www.fiaformulae.com/en/news/2018/february/vergne-steals-the-show-in-epic-santiago-e-prix/, (Accessed 03/02/2018)
- 'JEV holds off di Grassi in battle for Punta del Este', fiaformulae.com, (FIA Formula E, 17/03/2018), http://www.fiaformulae.com/en/news/2018/march/jev-holds-off-di-grassi-in-battle-for-punta-del-este/, (Accessed 17/03/2018)
- 'Bird claims historic victory in Rome', fiaformulae.com, (FIA Formula E, 14/04/2018), http://www.fiaformulae.com/en/news/2018/april/bird-claims-historic-victory-in-rome/, (Accessed 14/04/2018)
- 'Fairytale ending for home race hero Vergne in Paris', fiaformulae.com, (FIA Formula E, 28/04/2018), http://www.fiaformulae.com/en/news/2018/april/fairytale-ending-for-home-race-hero-vergne-in-paris/, (Accessed 29/04/2018)
- 'Di Grassi clinches first season victory in historic Swiss race', fiaformulae.com, (FIA Formula E, 10/06/2018), http://www.fiaformulae.com/en/news/2018/june/di-grassi-clinches-first-season-victory-in-historic-swiss-race/, (Accessed 11/06/2018)
- 'Di Grassi victorious as Vergne clinches championship crown', fiaformulae.com, (FIA Formula E, 14/07/2018), http://www.fiaformulae.com/en/news/2018/july/di-grassi-victorious-as-vergne-clinches-championship-crown/, (Accessed 15/07/2018)
- Sam Smith, 'Virgin Eyes Audi Power for Season Five', e-racing365.com, (John Dagys Media, LLC., 22/01/2018), http://e-racing365.com/formula-e/virgin-eyes-audi-power-for-season-five/, (Accessed 26/05/2018)
- 'Race Report: Da Costa - 'We did it baby, we're back!', fiaformulae.com, (FIA Formula E, 15/12/2018), https://www.fiaformulae.com/en/news/2018/december/race-report-saudi, (Accessed 15/12/2018)
- 'Mahindra's d'Ambrosio made up with manic win in Marrakesh', fiaformulae.com, (FIA Formula E, 12/01/2019), https://www.fiaformulae.com/en/news/2019/january/race-report---2019-marrakesh, (Accessed 12/01/2019)
- 'Madness in Mexico sees di Grassi clinch miraculous win in epic photo finish', fiaformulae.com, (FIA Formula E, 16/02/2019), https://www.fiaformulae.com/en/news/2019/february/race-report-mexico-2019, (Accessed 17/02/2019)
- 'Bird victorious in furious battle for first on Hong Kong Harbourfront', fiaformulae.com, (FIA Formula E, 10/03/2019), https://www.fiaformulae.com/en/news/2019/march/race-report-hong-kong-2019, (Accessed 11/03/2019)
- 'Vergne victorious in Sanya showdown, championship blown wide open', fiaformulae.com, (FIA Formula E, 23/03/2019), https://www.fiaformulae.com/en/news/2019/march/race-report-sanya-2019, (Accessed 23/03/2019)
- 'Vergne victorious in frantic battle for Bern ahead of Championship finale', fiaformulae.com, (FIA Formula E, 22/06/2019), https://www.fiaformulae.com/en/news/2019/june/race-report-bern-2019, (Accessed 23/06/2019)
- 'Frijns wins while Vergne claims historic two-time Championship title in New York', fiaformulae.com, (FIA Formula E, 14/07/2019), https://www.fiaformulae.com/en/news/2019/july/race-report-nyc-2-2019, (Accessed 15/07/2019)
- Sam Smith, 'Formula E: Guenther Sets Fastest Lap of Valencia Testing', e-racing365.com, (John Dagys Media, LLC., 18/10/2019), https://e-racing365.com/formula-e/guenther-sets-fastest-lap-of-valencia-testing/, (Accessed 22/10/2019)
- Sam Smith, 'BIRD SET FOR SHOCK JAGUAR FORMULA E SWITCH', the-race.com, (THE RACE, 07/07/2020), https://the-race.com/formula-e/bird-set-for-shock-jaguar-formula-e-switch/, (Accessed 07/07/2020)
- 'Sam Bird to join Panasonic Jaguar Racing for season seven following mutual decision to part ways with Envision Virgin Racing', fiaformulae.com, (FIA Formula E, 14/07/2020), https://www.fiaformulae.com/en/news/2020/july/bird-virgin-jaguar, (Accessed 14/07/2020)