When Sam Bird made the high-profile move to Jaguar for the start of the 2021 Formula E season, expectations were high for the experienced British driver. Having secured two impressive wins in his debut season at Diriyah and New York, Bird showcased his undeniable talent and the potential to be a force to be reckoned with at Jaguar.
However, over the following two seasons, Bird’s time at Jaguar took a downturn as he failed to add any more race wins to his tally. Despite securing a total of seven podium finishes, the inability to consistently fight for race victories raised questions about the overall success the Brit has had with the team.
One of the major factors contributing to the evaluation of Bird’s performance at Jaguar was the impressive record of his teammate, Mitch Evans. Over the same three-year period, Evans managed to secure an impressive eight race wins and a total of 15 podium finishes, firmly establishing himself as one of the series’ top drivers. The contrast in their performances, especially in the 2022 season when Evans finished runner-up to champion Stoffel Vandoorne on 180 points whilst Bird was a lowly 13th on just 51 points, raised further doubts about Bird’s ability to compete at the highest level with the team.
Moreover, Bird’s unfortunate high-profile errors, such as the collisions with Evans during the Hyderabad and Jakarta E-Prix races this season, further complicated his position at Jaguar. These incidents, along with inconsistencies in staying competitive with the front-runners, may have played a role in the decision to replace Bird for the upcoming tenth season of the Formula E championship.
At the time of Bird’s departure from Envision for Jaguar, it was evident that the team’s focus revolved around Evans, who had been with the team for seven years. The transition to a team with such a strong existing dynamic would undoubtedly pose challenges for any new driver, including the experienced Bird. The Brit had left Envision Racing, which had been his home in Formula E since the opening season of the all-electric championship. Therefore, Bird was leaving a team that was built around him to a team that was built around another driver.
While the signing of Bird was expected to bolster Jaguar’s chances for the teams’ title, his inconsistency relative to Evans and on-track incidents with his teammate limited the team’s ability to secure the championship which they missed out on by 12 points. As a result, Jaguar has made the decision to explore new possibilities with Nick Cassidy and Evans, believing that this pairing may provide a stronger chance of clinching the title in the upcoming season.
Despite facing hurdles at Jaguar, Sam Bird is now set to embark on a new chapter in his Formula E career by joining McLaren for season ten. His decade-long experience in the championship will undoubtedly prove invaluable as he partners with Jake Hughes, who has just completed his rookie season in the series.
Bird’s move to McLaren offers him an opportunity to help rebuild a team and play a crucial role in their quest for a championship run. With his extensive knowledge of the series and a proven track record of success, Bird’s expertise could significantly contribute to McLaren’s development as a competitive force on the Formula E grid.
However, this move comes with its own set of challenges. Bird cannot afford to lose out to Hughes, as it could potentially spell the end of his Formula E career. Competition in Formula E is fierce, and each driver’s performance is closely scrutinised, making it crucial for Bird to demonstrate his abilities and deliver strong results as he is one of only five drivers remaining from Formula E’s first-ever season in 2014. Of Course one day Bird’s time in Formula E will come to an end, but it would be sad to see him leave on performance-based issues rather than him retiring from the sport on his own terms as a leading driver and a loyal servant to the series he has helped grow with many others.
To sum up, Bird’s time at Jaguar can be viewed as a mixed bag of success and struggles. While he secured impressive wins in his debut season, he struggled to maintain that level of performance in subsequent years. It may be harsh to call his time at Jaguar a failure but in this highly competitive environment, Bird was generally unable to live up to the high standards demanded of him.
As he moves to McLaren, Bird faces an opportunity to use his extensive experience to make a significant impact on a former championship-winning team that is going through something of a rebuilding phase. The upcoming season will be a crucial juncture in his Formula E journey, where he must rise to the challenge and prove that he remains a formidable force in the all-electric racing championship.