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Bird to Remain at Virgin Despite BMW Approach

Sam Bird declines offer from BMW, and is set to stay at Virgin for a fifth Formula E season…

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Sam Bird is set to remain at Virgin Racing next season despite receiving significant interest from BMW and other manufacturers in recent months.

E-racing365 understands that the Brit will stay with Virgin for a fifth season after a strong result in the 2017-18 campaign which saw him challenge for the title until the final weekend.

This is despite an approach and offer from BMW to partner Antonio Felix da Costa as the Andretti operation becomes the German manufacturer’s fully-fledged works entry.

Virgin is believed to be close to announcing a customer deal with Audi for the upcoming season, and it is understood that this move was a part of Bird’s reasoning to stay with the British team.

Although he would not definitively confirm his plans for next season, Bird did admit that he has been approached by multiple rivals.

“Most of the manufacturers have contacted me which is nice and I suppose obviously quite flattering,” he told e-racing365.

“The future of Formula E is very exciting, especially with the new-look cars. So it is good to be in demand, I suppose.”

E-racing365 believes that BMW’s approach to Bird is part of its plan to pair Da Costa with an experienced Formula E driver.

BMW Motorsport Director Jens Marquardt admitted in New York City earlier this month that a driver new to the manufacturer could be considered in its lineup.

“We are looking everywhere, we always screen our own guys and whatever we have to have on our radar and we do this very thoroughly,” he said. “I’m very positive that we will have the right guys in our car.”

Tom Blomqvist, Bruno Spengler and Da Costa have all been used in testing of the BMW Gen 2 car in recent months.

Bird Engineer to Leave for Red Bull Racing

Bird’s Formula E race engineer is set to leave Virgin and become part of Daniel Ricciardo’s technical team at Red Bull Racing in Formula 1.

Mike Lugg has worked with Bird for the past two seasons but completed his final race for the team in New York City.

His move to Red Bull will be finalized in the coming weeks and the Australian will join his countryman Ricciardo with whom he worked to win the 2009 British Formula 3 International Series title.

“Mike was an important part of our success over the last two seasons in which we worked together,” Bird said.

“We really understood each other and achieved a lot. While I am sorry to see him go he deserves a great opportunity like this. I wish him all the best.”

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

5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. krisg

    July 25, 2018 at 2:39 pm

    I do understand Bird’s reasoning but not sure was the best for him to remain with Virgin. All teams with tights to a manufacturer will step-up their game next season but difficult to know how well can Virgin do just relying on Audi motors.

    • Sam Smith

      July 26, 2018 at 5:30 am

      Thanks for the opinion krisg.

      It will be fascinating to see what a potential Virgin-Audi axis can deliver, but little doubt they have the right man for the job.

  2. Chris

    July 25, 2018 at 3:24 pm

    I’m glad he’s staying at Virgin for season 5. I think this could work extremely well for him. But on the off chance it doesn’t work out as a customer team with Audi, then he can always go elsewhere in future.

    BMW should have kept Robin Frijns in the first place. I hope he finds a way back into the series.

    • Sam Smith

      July 26, 2018 at 5:31 am

      The Frijns situation is interesting isn’t it….stayed tuned for more on this next week!

    • krisg

      July 27, 2018 at 12:09 pm

      Yeah, Frijns was a big loss for the championship because he was fast and was doing pretty well. But now with manufacturers involved, they have their own agenda and don’t accept clashes, Frijns as an Audi driver elsewhere would never be kept at Andretti with BMW joining them…

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