Sam Bird has revealed how close he was to quitting motorsport after he temporarily dropped off the single-seater scene in 2013.
The Envision Virgin racer, who is the ABB FIA Formula E Championship’s third most successful driver with seven race wins to his name, says that he was about to become a personal fitness instructor, such were the limited prospects at the time of his career.
After a stint as official test driver for the then nascent Mercedes F1 team and becoming runner-up in GP2, Bird’s career was left in the balance after run-ins between his management team and Mercedes halted any chance of making it to F1.
“It was a nasty period. I basically I got ousted out of Mercedes because of a decision that was made by my management at the time,” Bird told e-racing365.
“Toto [Wolff] didn’t like their answer to something and I then never got to sit back in an F1 car again, never got invited to do DTM and I was told: ‘right, your time here is done.’
“[It was] right after I had become vice-champion of GP2 with five wins that year. Five wins in GP2 and you think: ‘hopefully I’ll have a chance of an F1 seat.’ Unfortunately not, absolutely nowhere near.”
The tapering away of Bird’s chance to break into F1 sent his prospects into freefall and it hastened a dark time in his professional and personal life.
“I went from having a job that was paying me well to having nothing,” he said.
“My management at the time was already taking a lot of percentage for the drives and literally I had no money. Nothing.”
The situation became such that Bird was close to quitting motorsport altogether when he was almost left unable to support himself.
“I was a few weeks away from having to call it a day on motorsport and going working on a gym or something, getting a personal training degree, because I couldn’t afford the electricity bill, the council tax and the rent.
“Luckily, I got an opportunity with Formula E, with Virgin Racing at the time, and I took it. Look at the change of fortune today.”