Sam Bird is one of the most versatile British racing drivers, successfully competing in various racing competitions. Currently he drives for Virgin Racing in Formula E Championship for the sixth season in a row.
Earlier in a career, he spent three seasons with Ferrari in the FIA WEC, he was the LMP2 FIA WEC champion in 2015 with G-Drive Racing, second in the 2013 GP Series and third in 2012 Formula Renault 3.5 Series. At 24 Hours of Le Mans, his best result so far is the third place in LMP2 class in 2015.
Starting a career in the Formula BMW
Sam Jamie Bird was born on January 9, 1987, in Roehampton, Greater London. He started his racing career in karting. He had impressive success across Europe which allowed him to get a scholarship to race in the first season of Formula BMW UK in 2004. Driving for Carlin Motorsport, Bird earned only 22 points to finish 14th overall.
In the following year he moved to Fortec Motorsport and scored six wins and another six podium finishes. Sam finished the season as a runner-up, behind Dean Smith. At the same time, he was nominated for the McLaren Autosport BRDC Young Driver of the Year.
Bird stayed with Fortec Motorsports for another year but competed in Formula Renault UK, scoring four wins and seven podium finishes, what was enough for the fourth place in the final standings.
Three seasons in Formula 3
In 2007, Sam Bird switched to British Formula 3 Championship as a driver of Carlin Motorsport. Two wins and 10 podiums from 22 starts secured him the fourth place in the championship. That was his only season in the series as he moved to Formula 3 Euro Series in 2008. Driving for Manor Motorsport, Bird wasn’t impressive as he was 11th at the end of the season.
Another team change occurred in 2009 when he became a driver for Mucke Motorsport. Starting in 18 races of Formula 3 Euro Series, Sam slightly improved his form and finished 8th overall but without a victory in that championship. The highlight of the season was third place at 2009 Macau Grand Prix where he was driving Dallara-Mercedes for ART Grand Prix.
Bird was a test driver in Formula 1
In parallel, Bird held testing duties for Williams F1 team in 2008 and 2009, focusing on straight-line aero development. He eventually joined forces with Mercedes for the Young Driver Test in Abu Dhabi in 2010.
Moving to GP2 Series in 2010
GP2 Series was Bird’s next stop. Driving for the ART Grand Prix team, he had a very good rookie season – one victory in Italy and four finishes at third position brought him fifth place in the Drivers’ championship.
For the 2011 GP2 Series campaign, the English driver moved to the iSport International team and began the new season very well, clinching podium places in the opening three races. Later in the season he scored points often, but it was only enough for a sixth place in the championship.
Successful stint in Formula Renault 3.5 Series
The year of 2012 probably was the turning point of Bird’s career. He finished third in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series after taking two wins and seven podium places, but at the same time, he acted as the Mercedes Formula 1 team test driver. He learned a lot and picked up much experience for 2013 in which he has returned to GP2 Series.
Video : Bird's comeback in the GP2 race in Barcelona
GP2 Series vice-champion in 2013
Driving for the Russian Time team, Sam Bird almost took the title. After five wins and six podiums, he earned 181 points but unfortunately that wasn’t enough for the title as Fabio Leimer collected 20 points more and became the champion.
That same year, Sam became the winner of the Pirelli Award for the Best Tyre Management and the winner of the BRDC Graham Hill Trophy.
Formula E and endurance racing since 2014
Those successes opened many new doors to Bird in 2014. He debuted in the FIA World Endurance Championship with the AF Corse team, driving a Ferrari, but without any respectable results. Sam also appeared in some IMSA United SportsCar Championship races and competed in the inaugural season of FIA Formula E championship, driving for Virgin Racing and scoring two wins. He finished fifth in the championship, establishing himself as one of the best drivers in the series.
World endurance champion in 2015
Sam Bird’s best year so far definitely was 2015. He successfully continued competing in Formula E, but he really shined in the FIA World Endurance Championship.
Driving the #26 Ligier JS P2 for G-Drive Racing, Sam became a champion in the LMP2 class after winning four out of eight races. The same year, he was third in the LMP2 class at 24 Hours of Le Mans. His teammates were Roman Rusinov and Julien Canal.
Five wins in three Formula E seasons
Bird finished his second Formula E season (2015-2016) in the fourth place with one victory. He stayed with DS Virgin Racing in the third season (2016-2017), adding two more wins to his account and finishing fourth in the championship.
In the meantime, he rejoined AF Corse in the FIA World Endurance Championship, driving a Ferrari 488 GTE in the GTE Pro class. In 2016, he was a race winner two times, together with Davide Rigon, and they finished second in the final classification of GT drivers. In 2017, Bird stayed with Rigon in the #71 Ferrari, scoring again two victories to finish fifth in the points.
Fighting for the title in the fourth Formula E season
Sam Bird stayed with DS Virgin Racing for the Season 4 of Formula E Championship. In December 2017, at the season-opening double-header event in Hong Kong he was a winner of the first race and finished fifth in the second race, taking the lead in the championship.
The second victory came in the seventh round in Rome, Italy. Bird was in a fight for the championship until the season's finale in New York. In the end, he was third in the final championship standings.
Just ninth place in the fifth season of Formula E
For the Season Five of Formula E, Virgin Racing made a new deal with Audi as engine supplier and new sponsor Envision, retaining Sam as a driver. The highlight of the season was a victory in Santiago, Chile. It was his only win and he finished just ninth in the points, what was his worst FE season.
However, he stayed with Envision Virgin Racing in the Season Six (2019-2020), starting the season with a victory in Saudi Arabia. In the meantime, he left Ferrari and would not compete in the 2019-2020 FIA WEC season.