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Bird: Calendar Uncertainty “Cost Me a Job”

Sam Bird frustrated at having to give up WEC drive due to Formula E calendar confusion…

Photo: Formula E

Sam Bird has described losing his full-season FIA World Endurance Championship drive with AF Corse due to calendar uncertainty for the ABB FIA Formula E Championship as ‘frustrating’.

The Envision Virgin Racing Formula E driver was forced to relinquish his season-long seat alongside Davide Rigon at AF Corse to Miguel Molina earlier this month.

This was because Ferrari had to confirm a driver that could give 100 percent commitment to its WEC campaign and attend all of the eight dates on the 2019-20 schedule, which was announced a year ago.

E-racing365 understands that, while some drivers who compete in both disciplines such as Sebastien Buemi and Brendon Hartley have clearer protocols for managing potential date clashes, Bird has been hamstrung by his contract ceasing at the end of 2018-19 WEC ‘Super Season’.

With no clarity issued by Formula E on its definitive calendar, which originally included three clashes with WEC over the course of the season, Bird and AF Corse were unable to commit to a new WEC deal.

Since that time, moving the 6 Hours of Spa from May 2 to April 25 reduced the potential clash threat to two dates: Formula E’s still TBA Dec. 14 and March. 21 dates, which clash with WEC rounds at Bahrain and Sebring.

Bird says that while he and Ferrari remain on ‘really good terms’, the decision left him feeling sad and frustrated.

“I’m obviously very disappointed that I won’t be taking part in the WEC this season with the No. 71 squad at Ferrari and especially so because it is all circumstances that I have little or no influence over,” Bird told e-racing365.

“But I fully understand Ferrari’s position and likewise they know the situation I was faced with.

“There are no hard feelings between us and we remain on really good terms for possible future work together. It’s just left me really sad and frustrated to be honest.”

Bird described his frustration over his contractual situation as “enormously annoying” and reiterated his disappointment in being given no option but to bow out of his WEC seat.

“The fact that the calendar [in Formula E] has taken so long to be firmed up this year has effectively cost me a job, there’s no hiding that fact,” said Bird.

“It was a role I loved at Ferrari and one I had a lot of success in.

“The issues with the calendars and potential clashes created havoc for me and my [contractual] situation. That’s just the way it is but it is enormously annoying, as you can imagine.”

Bird also said that lessons from the previous clash between Formula E and WEC in July 2017 were learned.

“I’m not into pointing fingers and criticizing anyone because I know that these things are never easy to get 100 percent in place, especially in Formula E on city tracks.

“But what is especially frustrating is that we went through all this two years ago with the New York and Nürburgring clash.

“After that everyone says it shouldn’t happen again and we will talk and structure things so it won’t happen, then it does.

“There were initially these three clashes and now we are at point where it is three months to the first race and still we don’t know the full picture of how many there will or won’t be.”

Sam Smith is e-racing365's Formula E Editor. A 20-year veteran in motorsports media, including press officer roles in both the FIA Sportscar Championship and at Lola Group, Smith is a well-known face in the Formula E paddock, where he served as series editor for Motorsport.com from 2014-17. Contact Sam

6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Avatar

    N8

    August 21, 2019 at 12:26 pm

    Again, I’m sick of hearing about it. You want the big bucks driving full scale R/C cars around in parking lots? The trade-ff is giving up on what you really want to do. Either accept it and shut up or quit.

  2. Avatar

    screwgreenies

    August 21, 2019 at 12:52 pm

    Oh well, Sam. You buy into the greenie PC crap and you get bit.

    Too bad, so sad.

    • Avatar

      Chris

      August 21, 2019 at 2:44 pm

      Take your hate elsewhere. You’re not wanted.

      • Avatar

        Bogdan

        August 21, 2019 at 3:35 pm

        He’s unnecesarely rude. But FE’s approach to the calendar making is disgusting. WEC announced early on, FE didn’t care. It’s definitely a p*ss taking approach by whatever chinese company owns FE.

  3. Avatar

    Chris

    August 21, 2019 at 2:55 pm

    It sucks for him. But at the same time it gets on my nerves having FE drivers who don’t care about the environment at all. Wouldn’t mind clearing house and getting top quality young drivers who do care.

    But it’s basically impossible because no one who loves EVs and only wants to race electric can make their way through to FE without driving fossil cars. So this will remain a problem for years to come.

  4. Avatar

    hellothere

    August 23, 2019 at 4:35 pm

    No one is gonna miss him in wec, dirt midget!!

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