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Bird: Envision Virgin Will Have “Parity” With Factory Audis

Sam Bird expects Virgin customer cars to be on same level as factory Audi Sport entries…

Photo: Formula E

Sam Bird believes that Envision Virgin Racing will have parity with the factory Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler squad throughout the ABB FIA Formula E Championship season.

Bird stays with Virgin for a fifth season, although the team has made the switch to using Audi customer powertrains after ending its partnership with DS Performance.

“There is parity. I am not going to go into details, but the fact that we have an engineer coming with us to every single race weekend from Audi Sport demonstrates what Audi wants and they are pushing us to be at the front,” Bird told e-racing365.

“They want four Audi-powered powertrains in the top four and they are not going to be satisfied until they achieve this.

E-racing365 understands that the Audi engineer seconded to Envision Virgin this season is Thomas Biederbeck, an electronic systems engineer expert.

Envision Virgin undertook its first miles with its own cars at the Valencia pre-season test after a few days were allocated to Bird and Frijns in the Audi development car in September.

Despite issues in the first two days, both Bird and Frijns made progress on the final day although they were, according to Bird, not running at full capability.

“Nobody knows the power output that we were running which I believe was significantly less than most other people when they were doing their qualifying runs, so that bodes well for us I think that we can go to Riyadh and score points,” he said.

“That would be great, to just put some points on the board in Riyadh.”

Bird-Frijns Relationship Has “Improved”

Frijns, Bird’s new teammate at Envision Virgin, is “quick in anything he gets his hands on,” according to the British driver.

The two first raced against each other in 2011 when they were adversaries in the 2012 Formula Renault 3.5 Series.

That year, Frijns won the title narrowly from the late Jules Bianchi and Bird, who finished second and third respectively.

“I get on with Robin well, it has improved, but we didn’t get along so well in the past,” admitted Bird.

“I think Robin has grown up a lot as a human being recently and now he’s a genuinely a lovely, lovely chap. Really funny, down to earth, a really good guy.

“Maybe in previous years that wasn’t quite the case, but I really respect him as a driver. I think that, of our generation, there were a few that stood out. There was Grosjean, Jules and Robin.

“And those were the three that were top, so when you beat them you knew you’d had a good race or a good season.

“He’s been quick in anything he gets his hands on and that won’t change now.”

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

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