Bird: 'I've been working hard on myself, and Diriyah was proof I can still do it'

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Bird: 'I've been working hard on myself, and Diriyah was proof I can still do it'

A podium and a near miss with fourth in Diriyah were more than enough encouragement for Sam Bird and Jaguar TCS Racing as they kickstarted their 2022/23 ABB FIA Formula E World Championship with silverware.

Sam Bird podium Diriyah Jaguar TCS Racing Formula E Team

Bird was overjoyed to make the podium for the first time since winning in New York City back in Season 7 on Friday in race one - calling it a "mini victory" for himself and Jaguar TCS Racing after a tough time in Mexico City, where everything that could go wrong, did. Technical trouble put paid to practice while a driveshaft failure ended his race. A "s***" weekend, no doubt, said Bird at the time.

READ MORE: Five things we learned under the stars in Diriyah

Season 8 was also tricky for the Brit, uncharacteristically. Bird's been around since day one, and hit the 100-race mark with race one in Diriyah and 2021/22 was the only season he'd failed to get his hands on Formula E silverware - putting that behind him no doubt felt a relief.

Bird: 'I've been working hard on myself'

"It feels so good to be back on the podium," said the 36-year-old post-Round 2. "I can't tell you. It's been a rough 12 months for me, but Jaguar have been amazing. They've stuck by me and they put their arms around me.

"Recently, we've had a very difficult Mexico to open the season and the amount of work and the amount of sleepless nights that everybody at the team has had in order to get us to this point. This is a mini victory for us.

Bird celebrates Diriyah podium for Jaguar Formula E

"I knew the pace was there in Mexico, I just wasn’t able to execute it. I’ve left last year behind me and this is a new journey for us with the GEN3 car.

"I’ve been working hard on myself, too, to get myself in a better frame of mind this year and this is proof I can still do it."

Team Principal James Barclay echoed Bird's thoughts, and was pleased to see the Brit "back on the form we know he's capable of".

Desperately close to doubling up

That run to the podium was nearly replicated on Saturday for Round 3, despite qualifying, unexpectedly, down in ninth - he'd looked far quicker than that in practice and during Round 2. Bird had run in the top three with energy management at one stage looking even better than the seemingly peerless Porsches.

A late Safety Car hindered the Brit though, with two ATTACK MODE boosts still to take and the field bunched, he couldn't keep NEOM McLaren's Rene Rast back. Despite one lunge at Turn 16 late on, he couldn't make it back beyond the German.

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“I’m incredibly happy with the pace of the car and that I was able to secure the fastest lap in Diriyah but there was a podium on offer on Saturday," said Bird. "We had great efficiency but after the Safety Car, the race became a flat-out sprint which makes it really challenging to overtake. We’ve learned a lot this weekend and now onto one of our home races in Hyderabad.”

Wrong place, wrong time for Evans

Mitch Evans qualified sixth for the opener, but a penalty for his part in an opening corner squeeze with Oliver Rowland (Mahindra Racing) and TAG Heuer Porsche's Antonio Felix da Costa - leaving him 10th, with just a point.

Race two saw the Kiwi lead the early stages but poorly timed ATTACK MODE activations saw him shuffled back down the pack to an ultimate seventh spot. There was definitely more on the table.

"It didn't flow for me this weekend," said Evans. "I was often in the wrong place at the wrong time and we'll go away, look at the data and move on to the next one. I had good pace but it didn't work out the way I wanted it to."