British driver Sam Bird sets sight on more triumphs in Saudi Arabia

2022 Diriyah E-Prix

January 26, 2022
Part of an ABB FIA Formula E initiative, Sam Bird last visited Saudi Arabia in December 2021.
Part of an ABB FIA Formula E initiative, Sam Bird last visited Saudi Arabia in December 2021.

RIYADH — British driver Sam Bird says he is “chomping at the bit” for the 2022 ABB FIA Formula E season to get underway in Saudi Arabia, ahead of the season-opening Diriyah E-Prix on 28-29 January.

Bird’s Jaguar TCS Racing debut ended in glory on the streets of Diriyah for the second time of his career in 2021 — to go with his 2019 victory with Virgin-Audi — making the 35-year-old the only driver to claim multiple E-Prix wins in Saudi Arabia.

And the Briton is hoping to replicate those previous successes when the lights go out on the first two races of the year at Diriyah’s double-header under lights.

“I’m coming into Season 8 with a lot of excitement,” said Bird. “I’m chomping at the bit to get started. I think Jaguar TCS Racing have done a great job over the break to ensure we’re in the best possible position going forward into the season. The plan is to do what I’ve been able to do in the past two seasons in Diriyah, which is to start with a win.”

Considering Bird’s previous in Saudi Arabia, he finds Diriyah’s street circuit — that last February became the first ABB FIA Formula E E-Prix to be held under lights — a joy to drive.

“The Diriyah circuit itself is in my opinion one of, if not the most fun to drive. It’s really quite quick for Formula E; fast and flowing the middle sector; you’re never in a straight line, always changing direction,” he said.

“It’s really cool to drive especially when you get it right but if you get it wrong it can really bite you because when it’s one corner after another, if you get the first one wrong you’ll get the next one wrong and so on and so on and it’s like a concertina effect. Also racing at night is a really cool spectacle, it doesn’t really change too much for me but certainly, on the TV it looks great.”

The connection between Bird and Saudi Arabia was further reinforced at the end of 2021.

Part of an ABB FIA Formula E initiative, Bird visited the country in December to share his knowledge with local drivers and found it an enriching experience.

“It was great to meet some young aspiring drivers,” he explained. “What I would say to them is if you’ve got a dream, if you aspire to be anything in life, if you put your heart and soul into it and never give up, you can achieve whatever you want in life.”

There are few people in the sport who could offer more valuable insight than the only man in history to win an E-Prix in all seven of the sport’s previous editions.

No other driver has more races than Bird’s 84 under their belt in ABB FIA Formula E, while Bird sits third on the all-time lists for most E-Prix wins (11) and (six). He’s also accumulated the fourth-highest amount of points (690) in ABB FIA Formula E history, and ranks fourth for most podiums (22) and fastest laps (six).

The only thing missing is a first ABB FIA Formula E championship, with Bird finishing sixth in the standings last year and his Jaguar team missing out on the teams’ title by just four points in one of the closest run championships in history.

But Bird goes into his second year with Jaguar TCS Racing confident that he, teammate Mitch Evans and their team will be at the business end of both championships come the end of the season.

“Jaguar TCS Racing are going to be at the sharp end,” said Bird. “I firmly predict that; I think that we’re going into it as strong as we possibly can. We have an incredibly determined team and a fast Jaguar I-TYPE 5 race car and I’m confident that we can get some great results.”

He gets his first chance to do just that when Diriyah’s renewable lights train their focus on what will be a world-class double-header of racing that kicks-off the new ABB FIA Formula E campaign at the stunning UNESCO World Heritage site. — SPA

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