Interview with Virgin Racing’s Sam Bird

Following his maiden ePrix victory in Putrajaya, we caught up with Virgin Racing’s Sam Bird to get his thoughts…

First of all congratulations on winning in Putrajaya. Briefly tell us about the race…

“The race from my side went very smoothly indeed, once I got into the lead I was able to concentrate on my strategy and from there on in it was a fairly simple race for myself and the Virgin Racing team. The pitstop went according to plan, I think that we could have had a far more comfortable lead had there not been the second safety car period.”


Battery efficiency is a key component in Formula E – both in Beijing and Putrajaya you pitted one lap later than the majority of other drivers but it wasn’t a detriment to your speed. Is there a particular reason for this?

“I don’t see there to be any rocket science behind it, I have a strategy and I work something out with my engineer and we stick to that strategy. But it certainly was good that we could squeeze an extra lap out in Putrajaya and still have the speed to do it. That’s testament to both myself and the work my engineer has done over the past couple of months.”


Does individual driving style make a difference?

“Yes of course, each driver has a slightly different approach. I have been able to adapt my driving to suit this car but there’s still room for improvement. I think we’ve found a way to deal with the battery unit, especially in the race.”


There was a concern that the heat in Malaysia would be a real test for the car, did you experience any issues?

“We certainly saw some higher battery temperatures than we would have liked during the race so we just had to manage it throughout. I think the cars held up extremely well especially on a bumpy and aggressive circuit which tested the suspension and transmission.”


Racing round street circuits means qualifying high up the grid is important. Does the qualifying lottery change the end result as you mentioned in Putrajaya…does the track build up in grip?

“I thought before the weekend that group four was always going to produce the pole sitter and the quickest times. In actual fact the track temperature just escalated massive so being in the last group was actually a disadvantage. I think it’s going to change throughout the year and it also depends on weather conditions and rain.”


There was some great racing after the safety car restart with you and Oriol Servia, do you think you relish the street racing element of Formula E?

“I definitely enjoy it but I think everyone feels the same. Street circuits are something I have done very well on in the past throughout my career. I don’t see a reason why that should change now I’m in Formula E. I’m very much enjoying the street circuit element.”


Overall what was your opinion of the track in Putrajaya?

“I thought it was a great event at a more conventional circuit. It had undulation and character…there were a couple of corners with severe bumps. I’m a big fan but it obviously helps if you’ve won! I think I speak for everybody when I say it was an incredibly successful event.”


Looking ahead to the next race, have you had a chance to look at the track layout in Punta del Este?

“I haven’t actually seen too much of the circuit but for sure I will have driven it before I go there.”


You now sit second in the championship three points off Lucas di Grassi. Can you keep up the momentum in the coming races?

“I hope so and we’ve been up there two races in a row now and there’s obviously a reason for that. I’d like to think that we can continue on this sort of form. The winner of this championship will be someone who finishes all the races in the points and is obviously very consistent. Points on the board is crucial but it’s too early to start talking about the championship.”