Jaguar Racing’s Sam Bird believes Formula E’s famous unpredictability will play to his advantage ahead of this weekend’s 2021 ABB New York City E-Prix double-header.
Victory for ROKiT Venturi Racing’s Edo Mortara in the previous round in Puebla continued a remarkable streak as he became the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship’s eighth different winner from six teams across nine races this season.
The result also ensured Bird remained in the hunt – the Brit sitting 11th in the Drivers’ Standings on 49 points having failed to score points in five of his last six races since scoring a victory in Diriyah and second place in Rome in Rounds 2 & 3.
New York City ePrix
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But the tough qualifying structure and close, wheel-to-wheel racing means no driver has stamped his authority on the Championship, meaning Bird could still leapfrog Mortara on 72 points at the top of the Championship with a race win in the first of the two races this Saturday.
The 34-year-old is a Formula E veteran having featured in every race since the series’ inception in 2014 and is the only driver to win the New York City E-Prix twice – both in 2017 double-header.
And speaking ahead of the weekend’s races Bird was under no illusions about the importance of the Big Apple for himself and his team.
“I know where I am in the Championship, but one race and bang,” said Bird. “Look at Mortara in the last one – he has gone from I think Group 3 to leading the Championship. Anything can happen. I am going into this weekend with quiet confidence. It is somewhere I have been able to achieve decent results in the past and shown some real pace.
“It is true this season has been up and down, there have been many positives and a few negatives as well, but that is the formula of Formula E.
“It is very rare that you can leave this Championship and say you have maximised everything, and couldn’t have scored another point, especially with the qualifying the way it is. If you’re in Group 1, you have to accept that sometimes you are going to qualify badly and try and work your way up through the pack.
“We are very much fighting the likes of DS and other manufacturers for the World Championship – both in the Drivers’ and the Teams’ Championships – it is so close.”
The double-header will be the first international sporting event with spectators to take place in New York City since the start of the pandemic, with the race itself returning to the Brooklyn Street Circuit in Red Hook for the first time since 2019 after last year’s race was postponed.
The circuit is one of the Championship’s most stunning spectacles with the Gen2 cars racing across from the Manhattan skyline by the Hudson River.
And Bird believes the more traditional street circuits of New York and the hotly anticipated upcoming London E-Prix will suit his Jaguar Racing team.
“I think the race pace has been exceptionally strong,” he added. “Maybe I haven’t quite maximised occasions in qualifying as I could have done, so I hold my hand up to that – but I think I understand why now, and I am ready to put that right in New York. Jaguar has the speed – and now we have a four-race period where the tracks should suit us more.”
Formula E: World championship Puebla - Mortara wins Race 2
A Londoner-born, Bird is also relishing the chance to race again in his home city following a five-year hiatus on a world first indoor-outdoor track.
“Racing in London again sends a shiver down my spine – it has been a five year wait to come back home as it were – to race in my home city. London is a city I have loved and grown up in and around and caused mischief in many nights when I was young.
“I have won there before and I would love to do it with a British manufacturer. It is a really big event for Jaguar as well, so I am very excited and can’t wait to get there.”
Watch the 2021 ABB New York City E-Prix live on Eurosport 2 from 21:00 BST on Saturday July 10 & from 18:00 BST on Sunday July 11.
New York City ePrix
Guenther strikes late to snatch Race 1 victory in New York
New York City ePrix
The finish to New York City ePrix as Guenther takes Race 1 victory