Bird will leave Virgin Racing to join Jaguar from 2020/21 Formula E season
The British driver will have his first team change in seven years.
Sam Bird will leave the Envision Virgin Racing family to join Jaguar Racing from 2020/21 FIA Formula E Championship season onward.
This is a first for Bird since the inception of the all-electric Formula E series that he will drive for a new team, as he is to leave the Envision Virgin Racing family at the end of the 2019/20 season to join Jaguar Racing from 2020/21 onward.
Reports of the switch already did rounds last week and it is now officially confirmed on Tuesday when Virgin Racing announced the departure of Bird. Moments later, Jaguar released details of their new hiring with the Brit replacing James Calado.
Sylvain Filippi, Managing Director at Envision Virgin Racing, said: "I know I speak for the entire team when I say Sam is one of the most likeable and decorated drivers in Formula E and, come mid-August, will leave us with the utmost respect and admiration.
"Being a founding member of this team like myself, I personally want to pay tribute to Sam for the excellent job he has done and for being a pleasure to work with over the years. Ever the professional, he remains just as committed and determined to end the season with Envision Virgin Racing on a high.
"Behind the scenes, we have been developing our season seven driver line-up and I’m excited to confirm that we will be revealing this in the coming days." It is reported that Super Formula champion Nick Cassidy will replace Bird in the team.
On his departure, Bird said: "Over the years, this team has become more like a family to me and has been a huge part of my racing career. Many will know that the team and Formula E resurrected my racing career and for that I am eternally grateful.
"I have so many memories and highlights – both on and off track – to look back on and I really hope there’s still a few more to come in Berlin before I embark on the next chapter of my racing career. And for sure, there is likely to be a tear in my eye come that final race."
On joining Jaguar, Bird added: "I am really looking forward to a new chapter in my Formula E career with Panasonic Jaguar Racing. I have watched Jaguar’s growth and progress in the series and am very proud to be driving for an iconic British brand with such a successful racing DNA and joining an incredible list of drivers that have raced for the brand.
"I am incredibly hungry for success and I believe that together with Mitch we can achieve great things for the team and ourselves. I want to thank Envision Virgin Racing for everything we have achieved together and wish them well for the future.
"After Berlin, I can’t wait to test the Jaguar I-TYPE and be in the best place possible for season seven and beyond." Jaguar team director James Barclay stated: "On behalf of the entire Panasonic Jaguar Racing Formula E team and everyone at Jaguar we would like to welcome Sam to the family.
"Since the start of Formula E Sam has demonstrated that he is one of the very best drivers in the championship and we believe that together we will form a great partnership. With Mitch and Sam we believe that we have arguably one of the strongest driver line-ups on the grid.
"With extremely close competition it is clear that to be successful in Formula E you need two drivers who can be competing for podiums at every race. We now have two proven race winners that are capable of enabling us to challenge for both team and driver championship titles next season."
In the six seasons with Virgin, Bird has accumulated nine wins and 18 podiums, with the best finish of third in 2017/18 Formula E season. He has been there but never had the full momentum to get over the line, which he will hope to do so with a manufacturer team.
[Image courtesy: Envision Virgin Racing] [Note: The story was written by me on FormulaRapida.net]