Sam Bird: A Formula E Icon

Sam Bird is currently 3rd in the Drivers Championship, only 14 points behind Nyck de Vries in first place. ATRL’s Emily Cary takes us through his career.

Written by Emily Cary

July 25, 2021

Sam Bird is a 34-year-old British racing driver currently driving in Formula E for Jaguar Racing. It has taken many years for Bird to become the driver he is today, and it all started in 2002. 

At 15 years old, much later than most, Bird started karting. Even though he was much older than the typical starting age, he was very successful and eventually got picked up by Carlin to do Formula BMW in 2004. His Formula BMW season went exceptionally well. He picked up 3 wins that helped him secure 2nd place overall and first of the rookies. He stayed in the series for a couple more years but often suffered mechanical issues with his car. The following junior championship he entered was the British Formula 3. After his success in the series, he got picked up by the Motorsport Association Race Elite Scheme in 2007, which gave him the opportunity to work with Williams F1. He also won the Mclaren Autosport BRDC Award alongside Alex Lynn. 

Bird with his previous FE team (Photo via @sambirdofficial on Twitter)

 

Sam also had some success in GP2. He competed in the GP2 Asia Series starting in 2009 and ended up finishing 7th. He switched to the European Series in 2010 with ART, but he suffered many mechanical issues that prevented him from showing his skills other than when he won in Monza. He had a much better season in 2011 when he joined ISport International and finished 6th overall. He couldn’t quite keep up with the eventual winner of the season, Romain Grosjean, but put in some great performances. He took a year off of GP2 and came back in 2013 with Russian Time. He came second overall and secured the team championship with his teammate Tom Dillman. He was then allowed to do the Young Drivers test in Abu Dhabi with Mercedes in 2011, turning into a test/reserve driver role for 2012 and 2013. 

When Formula E was started, Bird decided to take a chance on the new series. He has competed in every season of the championship and has helped form FE into what we know it as today. From 2014 to 2020, he drove for Envision Virgin Racing, but for the 2020 to 2021 season, he switched to Jaguar Racing. His results in Formula E have been varied. He finished 5th in his first season, and then in 2015 and 2016; he ended the season in 4th. In his first season in 2014, he finished 5th with 2 wins. His 2017 to 2018 season was the best finish of his career as he came 3rd with 2 wins. The following two seasons, he struggled, only being able to secure 9th and 10th place. Prior to the London E-Prix, he was leading the championship, however with his two DNFs this weekend, he’s fallen to 3rd, behind Nyck de Vries and Robin Frijns. Every season he has been so close to winning the championship, and hopefully, he will get there one day. 

Sam Bird winning in the 2021 New York E-Prix Race 2 (Photo via @JaguarRacing on Twitter)

 

When I spoke to him during an invited Q&A for the London E-Prix, he was extremely friendly and welcoming. He was an absolute pleasure to talk to and gave great insight into his career and interests out of motorsport. When asked about how he got into motorsport, Bird said, “I wrote several letters to my parents to go-karting, and they took me for my 8th birthday and then went from there.” He also mentioned he wants to become more environmentally friendly, trying to sort his recycling and limit the use of his road car. When asked about his feelings on the new indoor/outdoor track, he said, “It will be fun but is a very technical track that will push the boundaries of all the drivers.” On racing in the UK, he stated, “I am happy to be back in the UK and having a home race again, so something special, for me and the Jaguar team.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

I am Emily Cary, I am 18 years old, and I am from the United Kingdom. I have a strong passion for Formula 1. My favorite drivers are George Russell, Alex Albon, Charles Leclerc, and Max Verstappen. I am in my final year of Six Form before going to university to study PE with teacher training. I like to spend time with my friends, family and playing sports like dance and cricket. My passion for Formula 1 comes from the thrill and the excitement of watching the drivers drive and fight for their position on the track, also seeing the competitiveness and the drive that the drives have. Also, seeing the drivers doing the best they can to succeed and prove themself within the sport. This is the first article that I am writing about Formula 1, and hopefully, it will not be the last. 

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