Official: Formula E veteran Sam Bird joins Neom McLaren for 2023/24 season
The Neom McLaren Formula E team has secured the services of veteran driver Sam Bird for the upcoming 2023/24 season as the British racing team announced on Tuesday afternoon. The former Virgin and Jaguar driver and eleven-time E-Prix winner will succeed Rene Rast at the team from Woking and thus become the new teammate of his compatriot Jake Hughes.
"I'm super excited to get going with the NEOM McLaren Formula E Team", says Bird. "Becoming part of a team with so much heritage and prestige as the McLaren Racing family feels special. We know there is some work to do ahead of Season 10, to ensure we get to where we want to be, which is at the front of the Formula E pack. It feels great to be part of the team and I can't wait to kick off the season preparations, I'm super motivated and driven to deliver success with the team in Season 10."
Bird is one of the most experienced drivers in Formula E, having made 112 starts. Bird had his best season in 2017/18, when he finished on the podium six times for DS Virgin and finished third at the end of the season. However, the Briton hardly saw any ground against his teammate Mitch Evans during his time at Jaguar and also played no role whatsoever in the title fight, while Evans had chances to win the championship title in every season up to the last race weekend. So Jaguar decided to engage runner-up Nick Cassidy. Bird had to leave and ultimately ended up at McLaren.
Before that, McLaren had already announced the contract extension with Jake Hughes and announced the departure of Rene Rast, who is leaving Formula E after 38 races and three podium finishes. The man from Minden is expected to focus on his commitments as a BMW factory driver in the World Endurance Championship (WEC) as well as in the DTM in the coming season
Zak Brown: "We have one of the strongest pairings on the Formula E grid"
"It's great to be able to share the news that Sam will be joining the team for Season 10, alongside Jake", says McLaren team principal Ian James. "Sam is a proven force in Formula E, as well as other categories of racing, and his experience and determination will fuel the team ahead of an exciting season to come. As soon as the deal was done, his first question to me was when he could come into the office to start the preparations for Season 10."
McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown adds: "It is a pleasure to welcome Sam to the McLaren Racing family. Throughout his time in Formula E, Sam has proven himself to be an impressive talent, and we are eager to leverage his experience and expertise to help bring the NEOM McLaren Formula E Team further success in Season 10. Alongside Jake, I’m confident that we have one of the strongest pairings on the Formula E grid. Bring on Season 10!"
McLaren had purchased the former Mercedes team after the end of the 2022 season and signed a contract to receive customer powertrains from Nissan for the entire Gen3 era. The team finished eighth overall in 2023 behind the Nissan factory team. The best finish by a McLaren driver was a third place, achieved by Rast at Diriyya.
Bird will have his first official outing in Papaya Orange from October 23-27. That's when Formula E once again makes a guest appearance in Valencia for its collective preseason test. Until then, the veteran will mainly familiarize himself with his new team in the simulator.
additional reporting by Timo Pape
Overview: Formula E transfers & rumours for the 2024 season
|Team||Driver 1||Driver 2|
|ABT Cupra||Nico Müller||tbd|
|Avalanche Andretti||Jake Dennis||Felipe Drugovich|
|DS Penske||Jean-Eric Vergne||Stoffel Vandoorne|
|Envision Racing||Sebastien Buemi||Robin Frijns|
|Jaguar TCS Racing||Mitch Evans||Nick Cassidy|
|Mahindra Racing||Lucas di Grassi||tbd|
|Maserati MSG Racing||Edo Mortara||Max Günther|
|Neom McLaren||Jake Hughes||Sam Bird|
|Nio 333||Dan Ticktum||Sergio Sette Camara|
|Nissan||Sacha Fenestraz||Oliver Rowland|
|TAG Heuer Porsche||Pascal Wehrlein||Antonio Felix da Costa|
bold = officially confirmed