Brits in the Spotlight: FIA Formula E
Jaguar Racing’s Sam Bird has been an ever-present in the all-electric series since its inception in 2014 and is one of three London natives set to line up on home turf – quite literally – this weekend.
Bird’s junior career successes – vice-champion in Formula BMW, third at the iconic Macau Grand Prix and in Formula Renault V8 3.5 – put him on the radar of Mercedes-AMG, and he was appointed as the F1 team’s Test Driver for 2012.
Although the Formula 1 dream failed to materialize for the 35-year-old, he signed off from GP2 in 2013 with a run to second in the standings, before switching to Formula E full-time and dovetailing it with sportscar outings in the World Endurance Championship.
Ever since, he has been a household name in both circles, winning in every season of Formula E to-date and claiming the 2015 LMP2 World title in a G-Drive Racing-run Ligier. His 2022 campaign has been a mixed bag so far, but history teaches us that writing off the Brit is a risky bet to make.
Another Londoner to have taken the single seater pathway is Dan Ticktum who, like Bird, has made the switch to Formula E from what is now FIA Formula 2, but still the primary feeder series to F1.
Ticktum’s rise through the ranks has been well-documented, with controversy often never far away. Undeniable though is his raw speed and race craft, evidenced by his two victories at the blue riband Macau Grand Prix.
Ticktum, a race winner and title contender in MSA Formula, Formula Renault, European Formula 3 and FIA Formula 2 on his rise through the motorsport ranks, is likely to be a similar force in Formula E with a race-winning car underneath him.
The last of the London-born contingent, Alexander Sims, arrives at his home event having declared the 2021-22 Formula E season will be his last, both with Mahinda Racing and in the series as he returns to pursue his more familiar sportscar exploits.
This season has been a frustrating one for Sims, a one-time race winner in the category, although the New York double-header last time out offered some respite, Sims taking a season-best result of fourth after defending valiantly against a host of the main championship protagonists.
Jake Dennis has enjoyed a consistent run of points finishes and leads the line for the British cohort in the Drivers’ standings. Twice a race winner last season, his only podium of the 2021-22 campaign came at the Diriyah season opener, but the 27-year-old from Nuneaton has been an ever-present in the top ten for Andretti.
Dennis, a Motorsport UK Academy graduate and one of the UK’s standout names in single seaters over recent years, has Formula Renault, European F3, GP3 Series and GT World Challenge victories on his CV. He is currently a Development Driver for Red Bull Racing F1 team.
NIO 333’s Oliver Turvey is another with a silverware-laden record to-date. A serial winner in Formula BMW and the original British Formula 3 Championship, his career path has subsequently led him to victories in Formula Renault V8 3.5, the European Le Mans Series and the FIA World Endurance Championship.
A test driver for McLaren’s F1 team since 2009, Turvey is also a Le Mans 24 Hours winner in LMP2 but is still in search of a first Formula E win from his 84 starts.
Rounding out the group is Sims’ Mahindra Racing team-mate, Oliver Rowland. Rowland’s career began with Formula Renault title success in the UK, which he then nearly replicated in the Eurocup out on the continent.
The logical next step was the French manufacturer’s flagship Formula Renault V8 3.5 series, and Rowland was crowned champion at the first attempt, taking a runaway title with eight race victories. He made a one-off Formula E appearance in 2015-16, before finishing third in FIA Formula 2.
Following stints as a development driver for Renault, then Williams, in Formula 1, during which the Yorkshire-born driver made fleeting outings in sportscars, he found a full-time berth in Formula E. The 2019-20 Berlin ePrix remains his only victory, but Rowland has shown time and again that, with the right machinery underneath him, he is a force to be reckoned with.