Sam Bird lauded Jaguar Racing’s “massive effort” to build up an entire new Formula E car around a fresh monocoque during a first day at the New York City E-Prix that he described as “a rollercoaster”.
Bird crashed his Jaguar I-Type 5 car in the first free practice session on Saturday morning, necessitating a flat-out rebuild that got a newly tubbed car on its wheels in just over three hours.
Jaguar just made it out of the pitlane before the parc ferme conditions kicked in before the group qualifying period.
Even Bird’s race engineer Phil Ingram joined in the build effort as the team closed ranks around to make qualifying.
Bird then also fought back from being hit by Oliver Rowland in qualifying and was able to line up 20th on the grid despite having no real time to set up the rebuilt car prior to the all-important qualifying group session.
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He fought through to a ninth-place finish to score his first points since May’s Monaco E-Prix, when he made a similar fightback from a lowly start.
The Jaguar driver described the error that started his day so badly as “a small error, a minute one but one that had huge consequences”.
Bird had glanced the inside of the wall at the final corner, which speared him off into the techpro barrier on the outside.
“This is a game of inches. On a street circuit it can bite you, we all know this,” Bird told The Race
“I just clipped the inside wall, and it sent me straight in and I paid the price dearly.”
Bird rued what might have been after starting the day off brightly on a track where he won two races in as many days on Formula E’s first visit to the Big Apple in July 2017.
“It’s a big shame because the pace has been outstanding all day,” he said.
“I think that had had we had a car in both FP1 and FP2 we would have gone into quali and been fighting right at the front.
“Imagine what we could do in the race but there are ifs and buts.
“I’m happy that I scored points today and gave Jaguar Racing some points considering just how much of a heroic effort all the boys did to get it even working.
“I owe them some beers as well.”
Bird described the team’s race strategy as “spot on with the attack modes and pace in the race itself was very good”, suggesting he might have had the “quickest” package of anyone in race trim.
“We were catching everybody in the second phase of the race when I got past Alex Lynn,” Bird added.
“For tomorrow, I learned don’t crash in FP3 – that’s the first thing that I’m going to learn to make it a little easier for myself, but if we put in a good lap in quali I’m sure we can fight at the front tomorrow.”
Having now slipped to 13th in the drivers’ championship, Bird – who had led the standings after the Rome races in April – will be in the third qualifying group on Sunday.