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Formula E

Rivals warned as McLaren 'most efficient' in Diriyah

Neom McLaren were incredibly the best team when it came to energy management at the recent Diriyah E-Prix, something which will have caught Jaguar and Porsche by surprise.

Bird – Diriyah – 2024
To news overview © Simon Galloway / Formula E

After a below-par end to 2023, Neom McLaren have started Season 10 with a bang, following strong performances in both Mexico City and Diriyah.

McLaren have had one car in the points in all three races, whilst a podium has been within their sights on two occasions.

It's very similar to how they started their debut campaign 12 months ago, although there is a much better feeling around the Woking-based team this season.

One-lap pace continues to be a real strength of McLaren's, with Jake Hughes in particular having looked excellent. However, McLaren's big weakness in Season 9 was energy management, something which has clearly been addressed.

A significant amount of time during the off-season was spent working on their race management, something which has only been possible through software changes due to the hardware being under homologation until the end of this campaign.

So far, it appears that McLaren's work has been a real success and a lot of that is down to the hiring of Sam Bird. After a disappointing three-year spell at Jaguar, Bird moved to the Nissan customer team for Season 10 and has looked like his old-self.

The 37-year-old has looked quick in all races this year and managed to finish fourth in the opening race of the recent Diriyah double-header. He was even in contention for what would've been McLaren's second Formula E podium but just couldn't get into the top three.

Bird would've likely finished in P5 behind Hughes in fourth in the second E-Prix in the Middle East, had he not retired following an unfortunate nick with a wall.

Nevertheless, it's clear that his experience has already been invaluable for the British side, who have come on leaps and bounds in regard to efficiency. The Formula E veteran has settled into McLaren extremely well and is eager to get the side closer to the leaders.

'I want this team to succeed'

"I'm just trying my best," Bird told RacingNews365 in Diriyah. "Obviously, I'm very happy where I am. I've settled in well and everybody's been fantastic.

"I've got to say from Ian [James] and Zak [Brown], to everybody else in the team has been super. And I want to bring home results for this team, I want this team to succeed, I want it to be in a position where, I don't think it'll happen this year, but where we win races and fighting for races time and time again. That's going to take a lot of hard work.

"And our partnership with Nissan will continue to flourish, and we need to help them move forwards as well. But it's been a decent start.

McLaren being fast in Diriyah wasn't a fluke event, as they were excellent on the outskirts of the Saudi Arabian capital, Riyadh, in 2023. Rene Rast secured McLaren's first podium in Formula E last season in Diriyah, whilst Hughes started from pole.

Bird pointed out that McLaren were good in Saudi Arabia last season but that they weren't efficient. However, in Diriyah a few weeks ago, McLaren had the best efficiency on the grid in what is a remarkable turnaround.

"We were quick here as a team last year but weren't quick in terms of the race, like there were clearly people that were more efficient. Now we were the most efficient, so that's encouraging, really encouraging," added Bird.

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