Sam Bird enjoying' friendly rivalry' with fellow Brit Alexander Sims
Sam Bird says he is enjoying a ‘friendly rivalry’ with Britain’s new Formula E contender Alexander Sims as the pair hold the two race victories heading into round three - the Antofagasta Minerals Santiago E-Prix.
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.
Bird took home his ninth Formula E race win in the season six opener – becoming the only man to win a race in every Formula E season – before Sims romped home from pole in the second race of the Diriyah double-header while Bird retired.
This ensured it is Sims – who broke a six-year duck in single-seater racing by taking the checkered flag – who sits top of the Drivers’ Championship as the ABB FIA Formula E Championship heads to South America.
With the finale returning to London for the first time in three years, the possibility of a Brit lifting the Formula E title for the first time in front of homes fans has added an extra element this season.
And Bird insists his aim is less about winning races and more about scoring points to keep in the title hunt – a hunt potentially with his countryman alongside.
Sam Bird wins opening 2019-20 race in Saudi Arabia
“It’s always nice to get that little monkey off my back and get the win done,” said the 32-year-old. “That bit of pressure to win a race is off my shoulders now, I can just focus on scoring consistent points. Hopefully there will be more to come but it is just about scoring consistently and taking the points when I can.
“I’d like to think that every single season I was in the mix but I need to execute 11 very strong races in order to try and be there at the end but let’s see what happens.
“Alex is a superb driver and I’ve got the upmost respect for Alex and his capabilities for what he does in a race car. It is a friendly, competitive rivalry I would say – why not?”
For the previously unfancied Sims, who finished 13th in his rookie season and was only confirmed as returning to BMW i Andretti Motorsport a month prior to the season, his record-breaking three pole positions in a row indicate the formidable competitor behind the unassuming façade.
'Fantastic' - Watch the final lap as Sims takes maiden Formula E win
And having had time to relax and reflect during the six-week break since the opening race, the 31-year-old insists he is aiming for his second E-Prix win in a row – now comfortable in his new role sitting atop the Formula E perch.
“Obviously I am not heading to Santiago thinking that I will automatically get pole position and the win again, but I am ambitious enough to set my sights on getting another win,” said Sims. “The BMW i Andretti Motorsport team was strong in both Diriyah and Santiago in Season 5. I hope we manage the same again this time.
“The break after Diriyah did me a lot of good and I feel refreshed going into the race in Santiago and ready for the challenge.”
Watch the Antofagasta Minerals Santiago E-Prix live on Eurosport 1 this Saturday January 18. Coverage starts at 18:00 with the race starting at 19:00.