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Bird: “I Was Weeks Away From Quitting Motorsport”

Sam Bird reveals he almost quit racing in 2013 before Virgin signed him for Formula E…

Photo: Formula E

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.”

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

1 Comment

1 Comment

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    Chris

    May 7, 2019 at 6:03 pm

    Pretty unfathomable that it got to that point in the first place. But it’s fantastic to see what has come of taking that opportunity. Becoming a mainstay of the championship as it grows into one of the biggest in the world. A perennial title contender. It’s a great story looking back now.

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