Bluebird to return in electric race series

Bluebird, one of the most famous names in British motorsport is set to make a return to the track in 2014.

The team which bears the name carried by the cars and speedboats driven by two generations of the Campbell family to break speed records from the 1920s to the 1960s is ‘almost certain’ to join the electric motor-racing championship Formula E from the start of the series, The Engineer has been told; the first time for almost a century that the name has been attached to cars in a race series.

A concept design for Bluebird’s Formula E car

Bluebird has been developing a Formula E car for some time, putting a prototype body shell on display last year, but its participation was in doubt following the announcement from the series promoter, Formula E Holdings, that all teams would be supplied with identical ‘customer cars’ for the first season. ‘We were reluctant to put the Bluebird name to a car that we hadn’t developed ourselves,’ said Martin Rees, Bluebird Formula E project director. ‘But taking the Bluebird name back to the track is very important to us. We now feel that development time is very short and having received the regulations from the promoter last week, we clearly have to make some changes to the car we’ve been developing. Whether we continue to develop our own car for 2014 or get involved with the project to develop the current customer car is something we’ll be discussing with the promoter.’

Whichever way that discussion goes, Rees is adamant that a home-developed Bluebird electric car will be on the Formula E grid in 2015.

Next year is an important one for the Bluebird team because it marks the 50th anniversary of the year in which Donald Campbell broke the world  land and water speed records, a feat which had never been achieved before and still stands as unique. ‘It’s an amazing coincidence that we can be competing in a race series and celebrating that anniversary at the same time,’ said Rees, who added that Bluebird will also continue to develop speed record cars and boats.

Don Wales, Donald Campbell’s nephew and grandson of Sir Malcom Campbell – who raced cars under the Bluebird name in Grands Prix in 1927 and 1928 – will be Team Principal of Bluebird, and his son Joe is likely to be in contention as one of the drivers.

‘Joe is very young and very talented, but we have to be pragmatic and make sure we’re as high up the grid as we possibly can,’ Rees said. ‘We want to win. The unfortunate thing about Bluebird is that we’re not used to losing.’

An in-depth feature on Formula E will appear in the February online edition of The Engineer, to be published on Tuesday 12th February.