BIRD Sam (gbr), Envision Virgin Racing, portrait during the ABB Formula E Championshop official pre-season test of season six at Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia on October 15, 16, 17 and 18 of 2019, Spain. (Photo by Xavier Bonilla/NurPhoto via Getty Ima
Envision Virgin Racing’s Sam Bird revealed his team are treating the ABB Formula E Race at Home Challenge with the seriousness of any other race weekend ahead of the Brit making his debut in Round Two on Saturday.
Bird was the only regular Formula E driver missing in Round One due to a poor internet connection on his street – an issue he revealed he has combated with a 150-metre internet cable – but his return marks the first time the 24-man grid face-off again since Marrakesh in February.
BMW i Andretti Motorsport’s Max Guenther won the opening race and looks the man to beat but he was pushed to the finish by Bird’s replacement in the opener – New Zealand’s Nick Cassidy, who performed outstandingly to finish as runner-up.
Whilst the racing will once again be taking place in the online world – on a test track aptly named ‘Electric Park’ by Formula E fans in an online poll this week – the always competitive Bird insisted neither he nor the team were resting on their laurels.
“You have no idea,” said Bird when questioned on how much preparation was being put into the race weekend. “My Envision Virgin Racing team are treating this opportunity as if it were a real race weekend. Whilst the intricacies of the car aren’t the same – we are taking it very seriously so that the team can keep fresh in this challenging time for everyone.
“I’ve been living on my simulator trying to keep up with [Cassidy] to be honest. Nick has been keen on sim racing for a while and performed unbelievably well last week. I’m delighted to take my place in the number 2 car again and I will try to do Nick proud.”
Sam Bird of Great Britain driving the (2) Audi e-tron FE06 Envision Virgin Racing on track during the ABB FIA Formula E Championship - Diriyah E-Prix on November 22, 2019 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
Image credit: Getty Images
The race on Saturday will be preceded once again by the ‘Challenge Grid’ race, which gives the opportunity for some of the best sim racers on the planet the opportunity to show their skills and compete for a real life drive of a Formula E car during a race weekend.
And with some of the sim racers setting professional-quality lap times during last weekend’s race – won by Australia’s Joshua Rogers – Bird admitted he could envisage a further bridging of the gap between the online and real racing worlds.
“Sim racing now is a route for young guys to make it into real life racing,” added Bird. “OK, it’s a different set up, but it’s the same principle.
“If one person can do it anyone can. I think we will see more and more of it, considering real testing in a real car is so expensive."
Round Two of the ABB Formula E Race at Home Challenge in support of UNICEF will be broadcast live on Eurosport 2 from 15:30 this Saturday 2nd May.