Bird back on track at Diriyah E-Prix 2021

‘I’ve got experience of racing at night at Le Mans, so I’ve been working with the team to try and make sure we’re ready to take it on’

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RIYADH: Sam Bird, winner of Race 1 in 2019, spoke to Arab News about getting back on track at Diriyah E-Prix 2021.
The Diriyah E-Prix is the first Formula E race in a long time. How excited are you to be getting back to live racing?
It will be a great feeling when we take to the track in Diriyah for the first E-Prix of Season Seven. It’s felt a long time coming for everyone in the Formula E community — the last official race was of course in Berlin last August. For me, it’s also going to be a great moment as I get to enjoy my first race weekend with Jaguar Racing. We’ve all been working very hard under difficult circumstances in the UK and to race the Jaguar I-TYPE 5 for the first time will be a milestone moment for me personally and the team as a whole.
It’s a race you won last time out. How does that impact your mindset going into it?
Having had success here previously helps put you in a positive mindset immediately. Having said that, Formula E is one of the most competitive forms of motorsport and preparation remains the same as per any race. With the E-Prix now being at night, we are working hard to ensure the Jaguar I-TYPE 5 and I am ready to take on the track.
Why was this a track that worked for you?
I (jokingly) said it was my new beard at the time which helped my win in 2019 — but of course, it was the hard work as a team which led to my win. Off season development which complemented the track along with good race strategy allowed us to capitalize and I’m ready to try and replicate that with Jaguar this time around too.
This will be the first ever night race in Formula E. Are you excited to race under the lights?
The first night race for Formula E is a big moment — and very exciting. It should be a great show for fans and a new challenge for drivers too. I’ve got experience of racing at night at Le Mans, so I’ve been working with the team to try and make sure we’re ready to take it on.
What sort of challenges does a night race bring and how do you prepare for it?
I asked my team where the headlights were! In all seriousness though, it’s not easy to prepare for the first night race as until you’re there, living and breathing it, you’re never certain your preparation has been enough. The visibility will be different to usual but we’ve being testing in the simulator to replicate conditions and light — the tight turns and straights mean that there isn’t any forgiveness and it’s going to require more concentration than ever. I feel we’ve prepared as well as we can — now it’s time to get out there!
What’s your ambitions for this new season?
As my first season with Jaguar Racing I am keen to work harder than ever to immerse myself within the team and get the most out of this comprehensively set up race team. I’m really looking forward to working alongside Mitch Evans and with the some of the incredible brains and facilities we have, I am keen to push for points and podiums — and ideally some wins!
This will be your third time heading to Saudi Arabia. How have you enjoyed your experience in the past?
Heading to Saudi Arabia is always a great experience. Enjoying a different culture and exploring new places is a huge perk to being a racing driver who travels internationally. Although we won’t be able to necessarily experience as much this year as we are following COVID-19 protocols, everyone is always very welcoming and we hope to put on an entertaining race in Diriyah!

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