15 Oct 21
- FAN ZONE
09 Aug 21
Jaguar Racing's Sam Bird might not have had the best time of it on home soil last time out, with a pair of DNFs to show for his efforts. Despite that, the Brit's still in touching distance of the top with the BMW i Berlin E-Prix presented by CBMM Niobium to come.
Jaguar Racing's trip to London for Rounds 12 and 13 of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship wasn't the return to racing on home soil after a 17 year hiatus that it might have hoped for.
Sam Bird led the Drivers' World Championship heading to the ExCeL Circuit, and teammate Mitch Evans followed in close company. Two DNFs for Bird followed, with a tough weekend telegraphed from the off, through little fault of his own as the 34-year-old got caught up in mid-pack contact in race one after a tough qualifying session. Evans got tangled in strife in Round 12, too, but the Kiwi did manage to clamber back to third - and within 20 points of Envision Virgin Racing's Robin Frijns atop the standings - come the chequered flag on Sunday's action.
Bird's perspective hasn't changed despite his London troubles. An impressive zero to hero drive in New York City is still fresh in his mind, he's well placed just 14 points back from leader de Vries, and with Evans' drive to third in Round 13, he is sure the race pace is there - it's qualifying that will be the focus in Berlin.
"Both cars got caught up in accidents that were their fault on day one in London," says Bird. "In my opinion, I was taken out in race two which was tough to take. It was an important race in terms of exposure for Jaguar, with its first race at home in 17 years. We've been through all of that but at the end of the day, it offered the same amount of points as at every other race.
"It's just a shame that I didn't get any points on the board and try to extend a championship lead that was mine going into the weekend. We had the pace. It just didn't happen for us. Berlin is a new weekend, though, and there's two more opportunities to showcase what we can do.
"Race craft counts for a lot, and I think we've been very strong in that department. Everybody out there is super experienced in all forms of motorsport; there are no bad drivers - everybody's world class."
"It wasn’t the end of the world. I'm closer to the title fight now than I was when I was behind JEV (Jean-Eric Vergne) going into the Season 4 finale. So, I take comfort and positivity in that.
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"I think of all the circuits that we go to Berlin should be one where we can potentially target Group 1 or at least the top 10. I know from historically, and I know in my heart that if I can qualify in the top 10 we can go and get podium here.
"It's not a case of worrying too much about the racing, we just need to focus our attentions a little bit more on qualifying, making sure that I do two good clean laps, hopefully both days so we can build a lot of points over the course of the weekend."
"I've had some reasonable results there in the past. I’ve never won there but I’ve got a podium or two. So, there's no reason why I can't add to that tally. Winning the title would be super. It’s something that I've been working towards now for seven years. I'd be pretty emotional if I were to do it."
Bird referenced his best Formula E campaign to-date, that close run thing in Season 4, where the then-Virgin racer was pipped at the post by DS' Jean-Eric Vergne and Audi's Lucas di Grassi - with each taking a race win in the New York finale as Vergne strode to his first title. He's closer now to the top than he was then, and in his first season with Jaguar, the Brit won't pile the pressure on himself.
Given just how close things are this season, with 18 drivers in with a shout of top honours and the margins finer than ever, Bird says that if he and the team control the controllables and make the most of the opportunity at hand, he'll leave Berlin happy - whatever the result.
"I’m going out there to have fun, not put too much pressure on myself. I think we’re all of the same mindset at Jaguar. When we enjoy it, we perform at our best.
"If I can leave Berlin knowing that I've done everything within my power to try and win championships and it doesn't happen for whatever reason, I can hold my head up high. It's when you let yourself down or you don't quite nail qualifying, or you make some bad errors in the race; then you're more disappointed. We've got every chance of leaving there with something special."