British racer Sam Bird is hoping to defy the odds by winning at this weekend’s London ePrix in Battersea Park, where the last two rounds of this season's Formula E will be held.
The DS Virgin racing star and teammate Jean-Éric Vergne have struggled with an overweight car all season, but Bird says he’ll be racing for the win to keep his championship hopes alive.
“We’re about 30kg above the weight limit because of the [development] route we’ve taken,” explains the 29-year-old. “But I’m the last of the guys in with a shot for the championship, so I’ll be pushing very hard.”
Bird admits he would be happy with a podium at the Battersea Park race, with this season’s two main title contenders Lucas di Grassi and Sébastien Buemi favourites for the win.
DS Virgin Racing’s choice to run a dual electric motor powertrain this season has proved costly to overall performance, but Bird says the issues have already been addressed for the future.
“We thought that this was the right path to take, but have learnt that weight is crucial when racing,” he says. “We’ve already corrected it for next year, but for now it means competing with the other guys is very hard.”
Formula E regulations prevent teams from making drastic changes to powertrain set-ups during a season, so Bird and Vergne will have to make do with what they’ve got until the 2016/2017 championship gets underway in September.
Bird is currently sitting in third place in the standings, a position he says he’d be happy to hold onto at the season's close.
He agrees the powertrain issues felt this year could help to improve the motors of future DS road cars, but says his involvement with the road division has so far been small.
Alongside his Formula E duties, Sam Bird also races in a Ferrari 488 GTE for AF Corse in the World Endurance Championship. He was at last weekend’s Goodwood Festival of Speed driving a V12-engined Ferrari FXX, and says he hopes there will always be space for combustion engines in motorsport.
“We have to accept the reality that most cars on the road in 50 years will be hybrid or full electric, and Formula E is a catalyst for that,” admits Bird. “But I think there’ll always be naturally aspirated engines in motorsport because they’re so exciting.”
Bird will compete in the London ePrix on the 2 and 3 July. This weekend's race will be the last at Battersea Park, because local residents have won a fight to have the race moved elsewhere. A new venue is yet to be announced.