Hayden-Media: Q&A with Formula E's DS Virgin Racing driver Sam Bird

Photo: Domenico Loia

We recently caught up with Sam Bird (Formula E’s ‘DS Virgin Racing’ driver) for a Q&A session. They’re always fun to do, so we threw a few questions at Sam…


What advice would you give to anyone interested in taking up racing?

Favourite road car?
Pagani Zonda

Who was your favourite childhood race car driver?
Michael Schumacher

When did you start racing and what inspired you?
From the age of two I told my parents that I would become a racing driver. When I was 8 years old, they finally gave in to my constant nagging and bought me – as a gift – an introductory karting session at the Silverstone kart track. I couldn’t reach the pedals so the instructor put foam behind my back. But apparently I was quick. At a young age, I was very much inspired by Formula One, Michael (Schumacher) in particular.

What are the biggest challenges a young driver faces today?
The fact that money will enable a driver to go further in his/her career than talent.

With a lot of young drivers struggling with funding, how are you working your way around it?
Thankfully I’m now in a position of not having to raise funding to race. But I did have to raise funding earlier in my career and it was very, very difficult. My parents helped to the extent that they could in karting, and in the junior formulae but they’re by no means wealthy people. After that, my management team at CJ Motorsport managed to raise some funding to enable me to continue my career and we had support from various sponsors and individuals to whom I’m extremely grateful.

What’s your personal code of conduct on the track?
Race hard, race fair and… never give up.

Favourite race track and why?
Monaco. Street circuits are the ultimate challenge for a racing driver.

Tell us about your wins in the various categories you’ve competed in, and what it felt like?
I’m lucky that I’ve had a few and they’re all special to me. My first GP2 win at Monza as a rookie, and my wins at Monaco and Silverstone in both GP2 and World Series. Before that, my wins in Formula BMW, Formula Renault and F3. And more recently, my wins in the Formula E championship. I could go on! I’m lucky that I have a lot of good memories. But I hope my best memories are still ahead of me…

What achievements are you most proud of to date?
Winning in Monaco two seasons in a row, in two different championships (World Series by Renault, and GP2), and the recent Formula E victories.

Have you experienced any bad moments in racing?
Plenty! Who hasn’t!? 🙂

Which other drivers impress and have impressed you?
I’ve worked with a few, luckily. I’ll pick out two of them: Michael Schumacher. His record speaks for itself, but his incredible attention to detail and his ultra-professionalism were a real inspiration. The second one I will mention is Gimmi Bruni. That man can do things in a Ferrari GT car that nobody else can. Also a great talent, with a great work ethic and attitude.

Is it important to have coaching do you feel, and is this an area you’d like to participate in more of in the future?
Yes, I’ve done quite a lot of coaching in the past, and I’d welcome the chance to do some more… my own racing schedule allowing of course!

Do you have a training/fitness plans?
Yes, I plan to train tomorrow morning and again tomorrow afternoon, as I do every day. 🙂

Quickfire: Monaco or Monza?

Quickfire: Describe yourself in three words?
Fast, short and resilient.

Quickfire: Most embarrassing moment?
The first time I encountered Schumi as a team mate was when I walked in on him in the loo!!

Quickfire: Ferrari or Mercedes?

Quickfire: If you could take three things to a desert island, what would they be and why?
A tent, a box of matches and… a boat!

Quickfire: Lewis or Sebastian?

Do you have any dietary plans which you feel may aid/help your fitness?
I use JST Jodie proteins, plus a healthy diet. No fizzy drinks and no simple carbs.

Have you ever tried track simulators, and if so do you feel they can assist you as a driver on the circuits?
Yes, one of my primary roles at Mercedes F1 was to help them develop their simulator. With testing as limited as it is in most championships, simulators are a crucial tool for both drivers and race engineers.

How do you prepare for a race weekend, either recently in GP2 or in Formula E?
Preparation is critical. I won’t go into detail as that would take too long, but my prep’ incorporates proper nutrition, targeted training, track analysis and sim work.

Do you have any routines or rituals before you start a race?
Yes, I have a few mental routines, which I will keep to myself 🙂

What is the maximum speed of your current Formula E race car?
140mph (225km/h).

How have you found driving the Formula E cars, especially after being involved with the F1 guys?
The differences are numerous but the most obvious is the power source. In F1 your management of the race is primarily focused on the tyres. In Formula E, you are fighting for position while focussing on battery power expenditure and regeneration.

What’s the key to driving both fast and consistently around any circuit?

Tell us about the past few years and the teams and characters who’ve helped you along the way in F1, GP2, Formula E, etc…?
Not for the first time, I will mention Michael Schumacher here. He was really supportive towards me when I joined Mercedes and we became pretty good mates. As you can tell, he’s had a pretty big influence on my career. Other people who have helped me along the way would be too numerous to mention. They know who they are, and they know how I feel about them.

Where next?
The two championships where I am racing now, Formula E and WEC, are really the ones in which I would like to build a long-term career for myself. All of us, drivers, teams and organisers involved in Formula E, are pioneers of sorts, which is pretty exciting. But this is something I truly believe in as a very legitimate alternative to traditional forms of motorsport, and as a very entertaining form of racing. WEC is the premier sports car series in the world, and the Le Mans 24 Hours probably stands alone as the greatest event in our sport. So my ambition is to win.

Finally, we’re asking all Q&A participants to pose a question for the next culprit(!). What question would you most like us to ask?
If Hollywood made a movie about your life, who would you like to see play the lead role?


We’d like to wish Sam the very best of luck in all his future endeavours, and the time he gave us here is genuinely appreciated.
Smashing guy!


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