Formula E: Sam Bird aiming to emulate success from last year's Rome E-Prix

Rome marks the beginning of five back-to-back European races with Bird hoping to reset his fortunes after two disappointing results

Adam Bailey
Saturday 13 April 2019 11:37
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Formula E touches down in Rome this weekend
Formula E touches down in Rome this weekend

Sam Bird is aiming to emulate his success from last year’s GEOX Rome E-Prix this weekend - but the British star is expecting a tougher challenge than twelve months ago as the ABB FIA Formula E Championship steps-up another gear in Italy.

Rome marks the beginning of five back-to-back European races with Bird hoping to reset his fortunes after being stripped of the race victory in Hong Kong due to a penalty and then crashing out in Sanya on the first lap.

This run of form has seen the Envision Virgin Racing driver fall from first to fourth in the Drivers’ Championship but being only eight points behind current leader Antonio Felix da Costa, a positive result in Rome could see Bird fly back to the top of the standings.

Bird was victorious in the debut race on the ancient streets of Rome last year and but insisted this doesn’t necessarily make him the favourite this time – highlighting Formula E’s qualifying system which sends out the top of the Championship first for criticism.

“Qualifying when you are in group one is more difficult - it is like you are being handicapped for doing well, so that’s quite tough,” said Bird who will compete live on BBC Online and Eurosport 1 at 3pm on Saturday April 13. “I did prefer the older system - I think most drivers did - where you had a bit of a lottery within the groups, but it is what it is.

“The race format has changed so much that you can’t really read into past results. Yes, we were quick last year, and we were able to hang on for the win, but it’s a different day, a different kind of car and, obviously, I am in Group 1 for qualification so it will all be very different.

“There’s 25 points for a win at every single venue, the plan is to try and score as many of those as I possibly can. If I can do that, then I go to New York [the season finale in July] with a realistic chance [of claiming the title.

“I very much enjoy coming here, I think the layout is superb, more fun, you get a bit more overtaking. You saw last year it was a lively race, it should be good.”

Six different drivers from six different constructers have claimed victory in the opening six races; a seventh different winner in Rome would match Formula 1’s record streak from 2012.

Bird’s fellow British driver Oliver Rowland will be hoping the streak continues this weekend with the Barnsley-born driver arriving in Rome full of confidence after securing Nissan e.dams’ first ever Formula E podium with second in Sanya.

And with just 10 points separating the top-six drivers in the Drivers’ Championship and only two points the difference between the top four manufacturers, Rome could be the race where a driver or team stamps their authority on the title race.

The GEOX Rome E-Prix is live on the BBC Sport website and BBC iPlayer from 2.30pm on Saturday April 13 and on the BBC Red Button at 5pm.

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