Virgin Racing has announced that Robin Frijns will partner Sam Bird in its driving line-up for the 2018-19 Formula E Championship season, which will be the team’s first as a non-manufacturer entry.
Following the decision of former powertrain supplier DS Automobiles to provde its works support to rival outfit Techeetah, it’s been all change at Virgin Racing.
Just two weeks ago, the British squad sold a majority stake in its operation to the Chinese-owned Envision Energy. The privately-owned company is an emerging player in the renewable energy sector and specialises in the manufacturing of wind turbines and energy management technology.
The Envison Energy buy-out saw long-time Team Principal Alex Tai exit the outfit; day-to-day operations are currently being overseen by Franz Jung, Envision vice-president and chairman of the Envision Virgin Racing board.
Before his departure, Tai had helped the team secure a long-term customer powertrain deal with Audi Sport. Virgin Racing has since signed the Audi-backed Frijns to its driving roster as teammate to long-time driver Sam Bird.
The 27-year-old has long been touted as a hot prospect during his rise up the motorsport ladder, rarely enjoying the financial backing that would propel him to a consistently competitive race seat.
The Dutch driver spent two seasons of Formula E racing with the Andretti team between 2015 and 2017, but lost his seat with the team when it entered into a technical partnership with BMW before the 2017-18 season.
Frijns, who is backed by rival carmaker Audi, has been a regular front man for the car brand GT racing and the German DTM championship over the last year.
“I’m very excited to be returning to Formula E with Envision Virgin Racing,” said Frijns.
“It’s great to be joining such a strong team and with the work we’ve already completed, it’s clear we have a very good package. We now look ahead to pre-season testing, where we’ll be able to better gauge our on-track performance.”
Bird has been one of the regular frontrunners of Formula E since its inception but has generally struggled to find the consistency necessary to mount a season-long fight fot the Drivers’ Championship title. The 2017-18 season was his best, with two victories and four further podiums allowing him to keep the title fight with Techeetah driver Jean-Éric Vergne mathematically alive until the season-ending double-header in New York.
|2018-19 FIA Formula E Championship – Provisional Entry List (to-date)|
||Sébastien Buemi||Alexander Albon|
|Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler
||Lucas di Grassi||Daniel Abt|
|Envision Virgin Racing||Sam Bird||Robin Frijns|
|DS Techeetah||Jean-Éric Vergne||André Lotterer|
|Panasonic Jaguar Racing
||Mitch Evans||Nelson Piquet Jr.|
|NIO Formula E Team
|Venturi Formula E Team
||Felipe Massa||Edoardo Mortara|
|BMW i Andretti Motorsport
||António Félix da Costa||Alexander Sims|
Images via Virgin Racing
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