The inaugural FIA Formula E championship grid is starting to take shape, with the Virgin Racing team announcing that former F1 driver Jaime Alguersuari and 2013 GP2 Series runner-up Sam Bird will be its driver pairing.
For Alguersuari, it marks the Spaniard’s full-time return to racing since he was dumped by Scuderia Toro Rosso at the end of the 2011 Formula 1 season. He’s had a handful of karting outings and aside from that, has served as Pirelli’s F1 tyre test driver.
Alguersuari was – until Daniil Kvyat came along – the youngest driver to make his Grand Prix debut in 2009, graduating as the youngest ever winner of the British F3 Championship. He raced solely for Toro Rosso over two-and-a-bit seasons, and looked on course to remain there until he and teammate Sébastien Buemi were sacked at the end of the 2011 season.
“I’m thrilled to be driving for an organisation like Virgin. I’m going to be driving for a great team with a wealth of experience and I can’t wait to get out on the streets and put these cars to the test,” Alguersuari said.
His teammate Bird comes fresh from finishing as runner-up in last year’s GP2 Series, while also dovetailing this as the reserve driver for the Mercedes Formula 1 team until the end of last year.
“Formula E is going to be a brilliant experience and I can’t wait to get started on what will be an exciting new challenge in my career,” the Englishman said.
“I know I’m going to be driving the latest in electric vehicle technology and I’m looking forward to testing myself around the streets of some of the world’s most amazing cities.”
“Jaime and Sam are young yet experienced drivers and fantastic guys off the racetrack to boot,” Virgin founder Sir Richard Branson added.
“I’m delighted to welcome them both to the Virgin Racing family. Jaime has demonstrated speed and talent at the very highest level whilst Sam is a proven race winner. I am sure they will be a formidable force on the circuits, let sparks fly!”
The Formula E Championship is the FIA newest championship, delivering fully-electric single-seater racers to a new audience of motorsport fans while also promoting the sustainability of electric vehicles in the automotive industry.
The championship has ten two-car teams – including the likes of Andretti Autosport, Audi Sport Abt, Dragon Racing and DAMS – which will compete over a ten-round championship on temporary city centre circuits across Europe, Asia and the Americas. The season-opener takes place in Beijing on September 13, with the series wrapping up in London on June 27 next year.
Alguersuari and Bird join former F1 driver Lucas di Grassi and Daniel Abt confirmed in the Audi Sport Abt line-up.
Image via FIA Formula E Championship