McLaren has announced a significant development in its Formula E team roster as seasoned driver Sam Bird steps into the fold for the upcoming season, filling the vacancy created by Rene Rast's departure from the all-electric single-seater championship.
Bird's illustrious Formula E journey has spanned since the series' inception in 2014, wherein he has showcased his racing prowess under the banners of esteemed teams like Virgin Racing, Envision Racing, and more recently, Jaguar over the course of the past nine years.
The 36-year-old racer concluded a three-year stint with the British outfit, Jaguar, amassing notable victories in Diriyah and New York during his maiden season with the team. However, Bird's performance this season didn't quite align with his earlier successes, as he found himself without a win and securing the eighth spot in the drivers' standings.
Adding to this, he was involved in incidents that led to collisions with his teammate Mitch Evans on two separate occasions.
Bird Embraces McLaren's Formula E Challenge
The dynamic within the Jaguar team shifted, with Nick Cassidy taking Bird's seat for the upcoming season, subsequently opening doors to Bird's prospective move to McLaren—a speculation that materialized into reality and was officially confirmed on Tuesday.
In response to his new chapter with McLaren, Bird expressed his excitement, stating, "I'm super excited to get going with the McLaren Formula E Team. Becoming part of a team with so much heritage and prestige as the McLaren Racing family feels special." The seasoned driver, who boasts 11 E-Prix victories, acknowledged the challenges that lay ahead in preparation for Season 10 while articulating his determination to elevate the team to a competitive position.
McLaren's entry into Formula E this season stemmed from its absorption of Mercedes' presence in the championship. Mercedes had decided to withdraw after securing successive teams' and drivers' titles, a shift that laid the foundation for McLaren's foray into the electric racing realm.
British driver Jake Hughes, who showcased his mettle during his debut Formula E season with McLaren, will continue to be part of the team, having displayed promising results by clinching two pole positions and finishing 12th in the drivers' standings.
Meanwhile, Rene Rast, initially part of the BMW-contracted sportscar roster, will be parting ways with the team after a sole season. Zak Brown, CEO of McLaren Racing, lauded the addition of Sam Bird to the McLaren Racing family, highlighting Bird's consistent track record and deeming him an impressive talent.
Brown expressed his confidence in the team's potential for success in the upcoming season with the formidable pairing of Bird and Hughes, asserting that this combination stands as one of the strongest on the Formula E grid.