Sam Bird cherishes return to Formula E podium in Rome: "Big relief that I can actually still drive"
Sam Bird experienced a weekend of contrasts in Rome: After triggering what was arguably one of the worst pile-ups in Formula E history with a spin in Saturday's race, he took his 26th podium finish in the racing series on Sunday. Thanks in part to his 15 points, Jaguar TCS Racing thus still has a shot at the teams' world championship. In the press conference after the race, the Briton was close to tears.
For Bird, a long dry spell came to an end in the Italian capital: Since Saturday's race in Berlin on April 22, the Jaguar driver had not scored a single point. He had to record a no-score in six consecutive races. There have never been so many races in a row without championship points for the veteran.
"I feel more relieved than happy," Bird described accordingly after the race to German TV station ProSieben. "It's a big relief that I can actually still drive. In the last two years, I sometimes doubted it. I really wondered whether I was still good enough. But not everyone gets on the podium in Formula E, I think."
For his team's hopes of winning the title in the electric series for the first time, the result comes at just the right moment. Teammate and world drivers' championship contender Mitch Evans retired from the race early as a result of a collision.
"When I learned that Mitch had the problem, my role changed during the race," says the Briton, who is very open about the stable order at Jaguar: On both days, he had fought a duel against Evans in qualifying and lost on purpose each time.
"My role up until then, of course, was to finish behind Mitch, as it had been in qualifying the last two days. Then I was told to go after Jake (Dennis)," he told during the post-race press conference.
"Three points not worth the risk"
"But honestly, the guy I was fighting really fought smart," he praised Nissan driver Norman Nato. "He put his car exactly where he needed it. Even though I had more energy than him, there was no getting through."
"For three points, it wasn't worth the risk to me," he explained further to ProSieben. "So I tried to take what I had. And I'm happy with what I achieved today."
"Kudos to Jaguar, who literally built a new car," Bird said in thanking his team. "After that terrible accident, there was not much left to build on."
In the drivers' championship, Bird is only ninth, but there is still everything to play for in the teams' standings, with Jaguar 25 points behind its customer team Envision, which is in first place. At the London E-Prix in two weeks' time, there are still 94 points up for grabs for the teams' championship.