On Thursday DS Virgin Racing announced Sam Bird and double FIA WTCC World Champion José María López as their drivers for the 2016-17 FIA Formula E season.
DS Virgin Racing Team Principal Alex Tai is confident that the new pair can fight for the Championship in the upcoming season. “Jose is a proven world champion who has performed at the highest level and shown great speed and consistency in every motorsport discipline that he has competed in. I have every confidence that he will be able to translate that success to Formula E. He will join Sam who, over the last two years, has consistently proven himself to be one of the fastest and most talented drivers on the grid. I am confident the combined strengths of Sam, José and our team will be a winning formula within a series requiring high degrees of driver skill, consistency and hard work. An additional attribute is the character of both drivers whose sporting approach importantly mirror my aims in this sport”, he explained.
After a strong second season, finishing fourth in the Drivers’ Championship with 88 points, the Briton Sam Bird will also start his third season for British team. “We showed consistent pace in the second half of the season and if we can convert that into more race wins, then we should have a car that is capable of challenging for the championship next season. I feel at home with the team and really can’t wait to see what next season has in store”, the 29-year old said.
José María López, who will replace Jean-Éric Vergne, is moving over from FIA WTCC, currently leading the 2016 World Championship. “This is a really exciting move for me. I have already had some experience working with the DS Performance team on the season three car, so I am confident that we can achieve great things together next season”, stated the 33-year old.
López already won the FIA WTCC World Championship twice. Prior to touring cars, ‘Pechito’, as he is known to his friends, had a successful single-seater career, winning the Formula Renault Italian Championship in 2002 and a Formula Eurocup FR V6 title in 2003. He was a test driver in Formula One in 2006.