23 Jun 20

Sam Bird's season so far: bad luck tempers early glory

After exploding out of the blocks with victory back in Diriyah, Envision Virgin Racing's Sam Bird has seen his efforts marred by bad luck, with two DNFs in five races. Currently 10th in the standings, we recap his season so far ahead of the six-round final stretch set for Berlin Tempelhof in August.

Formula E's journeyman had the best start to the season with an impressive win in the opening round in Diriyah. Making bold strides from fifth on the grid with some brave moves, including an audacious pass around the outside of Nyck de Vries (Mercedes-Benz EQ) for third place.

Driving with the confidence to match his experience in all-electric street racing, Bird continued to dispatch his rivals in stunning fashion to eventually wind up in the lead. Despite the best efforts of Andre Lotterer (TAG Heuer Porsche) to pile on the pressure, the British driver crossed the line to take first blood this season. 

RACE REPORT: Audi-powered Bird clinches first-round win in Saudi, leading Porsche and Mercedes

Putting the win squarely down to the power instilled in him by his beard, that victory meant the hirsute Envision Virgin Racing man would maintain his streak of winning a race in every season. Also fittingly, this victory coincided with the anniversary of his maiden Formula E win at the Putrajaya E-Prix in the inaugural season.

Watch Sam Bird's run through the pack to take the first win of the 2019/20 season

The Diriyah double-header meant that the grid was back in action again the very next day, however, the high that began 24 hours ago would end abruptly for the Londoner. Round 2 was looking like a carbon-copy of Bird's run from the previous day, as the Brit moved his way up fourth from seventh on the grid.

In a group with Lucas di Grassi (Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler), Antonio Felix da Costa (DS Techeetah) and Mitch Evans (Panasonic Jaguar Racing) behind him. After the pack bunched up following da Costa's move on di Grassi in the fast and flowing turns of the Diriyah circuit, Bird was unable to make a move stick on the Brazilian and was subsequently caught up in an incident with Evans, ending up in the wall and out of the race. 

Following the win in the 2019 running of the Santiago E-Prix, the Parque O'Higgins circuit was looking like the perfect location for Bird to get his championship aspirations back on track. He showed some pace in the opening practice session, but the team struggled with the scorching temperature in Santiago, with Bird eventually qualifying down in 16th position.

In demanding conditions and avoiding all the drama on track, Bird was able to scythe through the field, ending the race in 10th and scoring an extra point for posting the fastest lap time in the top 10.

On to Mexico City and the British driver was looking back to his old self. Making his way through to Super Pole, Bird started the race from sixth position on the grid. 

Bird leading the pack through the Foro Sol in Mexico, before this race would end in a DNF

In a typical action-packed affair in the Mexican capital, Bird demonstrated his overtaking prowess for the fans seated in the packed Foro Sol grandstand, sliding past rival Lotterer into the technical stadium section.

However, Bird's luck would run out. In second position and with the clock counting down the closing stages of the race, whilst defending hard against da Costa's advances Bird overcooked his braking and clipped the wall at Turn 13 - ending his race along with any chances of a podium finish.

AND WE GO GREEN - Sam Bird: 'Formula E gave me something back when I was on my knees'

Coming into Marrakesh, Bird had a healthy record of always starting on the front row and standing on the podium in all three appearances at the Circuit Moulay El Hassan.

This wasn't to continue in the 2020 Marrakesh E-Prix. Having qualified down in 14th, Bird battled through the field to end the race in 10th and claim the final point. The British driver left Morocco in 10th place in the standings on 29 points.

With the final six rounds in Berlin coming soon, the championship title still eludes Bird's Formula E records, but with 174 points up for grabs over the six races, the Brit is still an outside bet for the title. 

Bird's a battler though, as he showed when he jumped into training with a UFC fighter earlier this year. He will no doubt come out fighting when we go green on August 5.

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