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.”