It was a topsy-turvy season for Virgin Racing. Keen to introduce stability early on, the British team was the first to announce its 2014-15 driver line up, bagging street circuit specialist Sam Bird and former Red Bull protégé Jaime Alguersuari. The plan seemed to be working, with a podium finish for Bird in the first ever race and a crushing win in the second. Then the team’s performance fell away. Bird scored 40 points in his first two races – and 36 in the following eight.
“We hit the ground running at the beginning of the year and we finished the season very strongly,” Bird says. “But there was a time in the middle when we couldn’t get more than a couple of points in each round. That was very difficult.”
Bird had shown superior energy management skills in Beijing and an unbelievable turn of pace in Putrajaya, which made the string of poor results that followed all the more baffling. “We have to look back and wonder if we maximised what we had,” he says. “Was I driving to the best of my ability? Was the team giving me the best car?”
In a bid to match the experience and resources of Renault, Virgin has partnered with DS, part of French car giant Citroen, for season two. Bird is confident that the team’s new powertrain and the additional resources of DS will level the playing field. “DS coming on board is a great thing for the team,” Bird says. “They’re not in Formula E just to participate: they’re in it to win. It’ll be tough in their first season but they are giving us to the tools to do it.”
The DS Virgin Racing powertrain remains firmly under wraps, although we believe the system uses twin motors and either a single or twin speed transmission. Bird reckons this revamped drivetrain will come into its own once the season begins. “High speed corners are not its forte. ABT seems to have the advantage at 200kW but we’ll really find out where we are in Beijing. We’re ready to win more races.”
This is an excerpt from the October 2015 edition of the Current E magazine.