Mitch Evans says a teammate of Sam Bird’s caliber is what Jaguar needed to truly run at the front of the field as the team embark on Formula E’s first season as a world championship.
Ahead of Jaguar’s Season 7 launch, Evans told Inside Electric why Bird’s experience, as one of four drivers to have competed in every Formula E race thus far, would combine well with his own familiarity withing the Jaguar team.
“I think what’s interesting about our partnership is that I’m very experienced within the team, so I know everything within the team, how we operate, how we work, I know all the personnel, I’m very much at home,” Evans said.
“[Sam has] obviously got more experience in the championship, which is amazing. His stats, his credentials just speak for themselves, he’s one of the most successful drivers in Formula E, one of the most experienced, since it started [and] he’s won a race every season, almost won a few championships.”
Bird drove for Virgin in all six seasons of Formula E so far but Evans said his new team-mate was already feeling ‘at home’ at Jaguar.
“Is it going to be a slight transition period to get used to our environment? I mean, even after a few tests he really feels at home, which is great and the beauty of having a very experienced teammate is you don’t really have to teach him much,” Evans said.
“Apart from a few things from the driver’s side – our steering wheel, the way we communicate, whereas obviously with James [Calado, Evans’ Season 6 teammate] you had to be a bit more patient and do a little bit more initial Formula E-specific coaching to get him up to speed.
“That transitions into the first race and it’s a constant learning curve. Obviously, though, with a guy like Sam none of that is a worry.”
Evans has, overwhelmingly, been the breadwinner for the team in terms of points for the duration of Jaguar’s time in Formula E. Over the course of his four seasons with the team, he scored 81%, 57%, 90% and 87% of the team’s points haul, the only teammate to get close to him being Season 1 champion Nelson Piquet Jr in Jaguar’s sophomore year – also their highest-scoring season ever.
For the team to mount a credible challenge to DS Techeetah or BMW Andretti, they need another driver on Evans’ level and he said that’s what Bird’s signing will bring.
“I’m just super excited to have someone of his caliber to partner with, to learn from, to work against head-to-head – we’re expecting a healthy relationship, a healthy rivalry,” said Evans.
“I think it’s going to be one of those partnerships where it’s so tight, one day I’ll be on top of him, the next day he’ll get on top of me and we’ll both be happy for each other.
“At the end of the day, we want Jaguar Racing at the top and that’s only going to happen if we work together and we’re both performing well. It’s going to be a very exciting partnership and hopefully a very successful one.
“That’s the reason why the team’s brought Sam in, to fill that last piece of the puzzle and elevate Jaguar to the next level.
“I think everyone internally is extremely excited and we’re coming into the season with zero doubt over a new teammate or a rookie, so i’m looking forward to that challenge.
“We’ll wait and see how we get on over a proper working relationship and that’s not gonna really happen until maybe Valencia, we’ll get an idea and obviously then into the races.”