Sam Bird will miss next month’s Six Hours of the Nürburgring in favor of Formula E’s inaugural event in New York City, DS Virgin Racing has announced.
The Ferrari factory driver, who currently sits third in the FIA World Endurance Championship for GT Drivers, was among the handful of drivers that were still undecided on which event they would miss on the July 14-16 weekend, the first-ever clash between WEC and Formula E races.
The decision to contest the New York double-header essentially eliminates Bird from winning the newly created GT World Championship for drivers.
Bird, who is currently 8th in the Formula E championship said: “With the first-ever FIA-sanctioned motorsport event to be held in New York, Formula E is continuing to push the boundaries and break new ground, and it’s exciting to be part of that.”
Ferrari has yet to announce Bird’s replacement in the No. 71 AF Corse entry alongside full-season driver Davide Rigon.
Miguel Molina joined the pairing for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, although the Spaniard is set to return to the GTE-Am class No. 54 Spirit of Race Ferrari 488 GTE for the remainder of the WEC season.
It’s believed Molina, along with fellow factory drivers Toni Vilander and Giancarlo Fisichella, are being considered for the seat.
Bird’s confirmation leaves only Formula E championship leader Sebastien Buemi as yet-to-be-decided on where he’ll race that weekend.
DS Virgin Racing team principal Alex Tai confirmed that Bird’s Formula E teammate Jose Maria Lopez will be with Toyota at the Nürburgring, with the team still “assessing options” for the Argentinean’s replacement, which could be its reserve driver, Alex Lynn, who also has a full-season ride in the WEC with G-Drive Racing in LMP2.
Vaillante Rebellion drivers Nicolas Prost and Nelson Piquet Jr. have confirmed that they will prioritize Formula E, with Pipo Derani and Filipe Albuquerque emerging as possible replacements for the race.
Jean-Eric Vergne will also step back from his commitments with Manor at the Nürburgring, opting to race for his Techeetah team in Formula E.
It’s understood an agreement has been made between WEC and Formula E to avoid any date clashes next year, with the all-electric series having already unveiled its 2017-2018 schedule.