BIRD: "Formula E was on my radar since it was announced as a project"
British Formula E racer who was a part of Formula E since the first season shares with us his view on his first seasons in Formula E and his WEC programme
Sam, firstly, congratulations on your win in Buenos Aires. How did it come to be that you decided to join Formula E?
- Formula E was on my radar and my manager’s radar from the moment it was announced in its project stages a few years ago. It was a concept we really believed and we knew that with the backing of the FIA and with Alejandro Agag at the helm, Formula E would be managed extremely seriously. We know Alejandro from my time in GP2 as he owned one of the teams back then.
Last year, you scored two wins and one third place, so for which moment can you say that it was, for you, the best moment of last season?
- The two wins last season were special for different reasons. Bringing Virgin Racing its first ever Formula E win was amazing for everyone involved. But then winning the season finale in front of a massive home crown in London was an unforgettable moment as well! Similarly, delivering DS its first win in Argentina this season was a really important moment. So many people at DS and Virgin Racing are working tirelessly behind the scenes and a great result on track makes it all worth it. It was absolutely their victory every bit as much as mine!
A win and a second place, and you find yourself in third place in the drivers’ championship, behind Buemi and di Grassi. How do you comment on your second season in Formula E so far?
- This will be a season to try to make the most with what we have. It’s no secret that we face an uphill battle because of the weight of our car, compared with some of our competitors so in terms of outright pace, it’s difficult to compete. But if we’re smart, minimise mistakes and take our chances, we can achieve some good results, like we have so far.
Since we have seen changes in the regulations for the second season, what is your opinion on how your team has developed the car for this season?
- As I’ve just said, our package is not the quickest overall but we’re learning all the time and making good progress within the limited scope of what you can work on during the season.
During your racing career, you were a reserve driver for Mercedes F1 team. Can you tell us something about what were your duties during that period, and also now that you are a part of Ferrari’s WEC project, can you tell us something about your relationship with the Italian team so far?
- When I was Mercedes reserve, I was basically on standby in the event that one of the drivers was unable to drive. I also did a lot of testing and development work in the sim and a handful of days on track.
As far as Ferrari WEC is concerned, it’s a real privilege to be part of such a prestigious organisation. Every racing driver dreams of one day wearing the red suit and representing the Prancing Horse. I did a couple of races with AF Corse (their factory WEC team) in 2014, in the ProAm class and we have stayed in close contact ever since. Last year, doing well in LMP2 and winning the Championship with G-Drive definitely gave me the additional experience that I needed in endurance sports car racing and put me in contention for one of the coveted positions in Ferrari's PRO WEC lineup. I was obviously delighted to get the call.