Sam Bird already eyeing British ePrix but highlights major concern about Formula E return
The Brit finished ninth in the most recent Formula E campaign, with the Envision Virgin Racing star enduring a frustrating season with an eighth and a fourth in the New York double-header.
The results cap Bird’s worst-ever season in the sustainable championship, although the 32-year-old is already looking ahead to 2020 when the series returns to London.
Season Six will culminate with back-to-back races around the London Royal Docks, returning to the capital for the first time since 2016 when it was held around Battersea Park.
Speaking exclusively to Express Sport about the race, Bird said: “It’s always fun to go to a new location, and the London double header will be amazing.
“To go back to my home city will be something very special.
“It’s absolutely necessary to have a race in the UK on the calendar. The UK has such a huge motorsport fan base, most of the teams were born in the UK, the championship grew out of Donington and it’s nice to kind of ‘go home’.
“A lot of the media, press and the TV coverage is based in and around the UK and I think it’s extremely important to be back there.
“I think the venue looks fantastic – I went to go and see it recently and I was very impressed with A. the track layout and B. what they’re trying to do there. I think it’s going to be an amazing event.”
The new circuit boasts a unique configuration that will see the cars run inside the ExCeL exhibition centre before passing outside, around the venue and back under cover.
This is the first track of its kind to ever be used in motorsport, and Bird has already identified one key problem that could rear its head when Formula E rolls into London on the weekend of July 25/26.
“We don’t want it to rain! Trust me, you don’t want it to rain,” emphasised Bird.
“I’ve had a look at the circuit. It will not be good if it rains! It’ll be very tough. Inside to out [will be difficult], but that water will be dragged into the inside [of the ExCeL Centre] and we don’t know what type of surface that will be yet.
“Whether it’s going to be the normal sort of shiny surface that we get in exhibition halls, or if it will be tarmac. If it’s the shiny surface with water being dragged in, it will make corners very tricky.”
Bird’s concerns are well-founded, with Formula E driving standards coming under scrutiny throughout Season Five for countless crashes and incidents – even in dry conditions.
The penultimate round in New York was a chaotic affair with contact throughout, most noticeably on the final lap when Felipe Massa collided with Jean-Eric Vergne.
The incident denied Vergne the points needed to wrap up the championship, although the Frenchman eventually go the job done in the final round to become the first-ever driver to win multiple Formula E titles.
Bird will be hoping to add his name to the list of champions next season, having signed on for another year with Envision Virgin Racing.
The Brit finished fifth in the inaugural Formula E campaign back in 2014/15 then recorded consecutive fourth-place finishes and went one better in 2017/18 before his ninth-place finish this season.
Bird will be looking to bounce back next time around and will be doing all he can to lift the crown in front of his home crowd in 2020.
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