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|Abu Dhabi young driver test day three
17 November 2011
- Thursday 17 November 2011
- Yas Marina Circuit
- Sam Bird
- No of Laps:
- 104 laps
- Best Lap Time:
- Kms Covered:
- 578 kms
- Track Length:
- 5.554 kms
The third and final day of the Young Driver Test took place in Abu Dhabi today, with Sam Bird rounding off the test programme for MERCEDES GP PETRONAS at the Yas Marina Circuit.
- The team ran a 2012 exhaust position this morning and collected data to help develop our package for the new regulations
- This afternoon, we returned to a standard car specification and focused on developing the set-up of the car on the soft Pirelli tyre
- The three day programme has been extremely productive and enabled Sam to complete over 1394 kms of running
Sam Bird: "We again had a very good day today and were able to cover a lot of mileage with 104 laps in total. We were focusing on further development work for 2012 which went well and the team are very positive about the results gained. I would like to say thank you to MERCEDES GP PETRONAS for trusting me with the driving responsibilities for this three-day test. It’s been a very positive and enjoyable experience for me, and I’ve greatly enjoyed working with the team."
Ross Brawn: "We have had a very good test in Abu Dhabi this week, and my compliments to Sam and the team at the Yas Marina Circuit for their efforts over the three days. The test has enabled us to make a good start to our 2012 preparations, and provided a wealth of data for our engineers to study. Sam has performed extremely well this week, providing consistency and accuracy in both his driving and feedback, and our engineers in Abu Dhabi have been very impressed with his contribution."
|MERCEDES GP PETRONAS
|Marinescu takes F2 victory in Monza
01 October 2011
Mihai Marinescu secured his maiden FIA Formula Two Championship win from pole position during a thrilling round 13 at Monza.
Racing on a circuit he describes as his second home, the young Romanian lost the lead at the start to Alex Brundle but gained it back on lap two and drove superbly to a 5.411sec victory over Mirko Bortolotti.
His victory forced Bortolotti to wait an extra day before securing the Formula Two title, and moved Marinescu up to fourth in the championship standings.
He said: “I’m really happy – and most of all I’m happier because it happened here in Monza. I feel really at home here.
“I had a tricky get away from the start, Alex got past at the first chicane but on the next lap I made my move and overtook him and then I drove it safely home.
“I’ve done a lot of things differently since Austria, starting with the preparation for the weekend itself and then a different approach to the whole weekend, and it looks like it paid off."
Earlier in the weekend he had taken pole position by 0.168s ahead of Brundle, saying: “I’m very pleased that it’s happened right here at Monza which is a very special place for me. I grew up here, everything as a race driver started for me here and it’s like a home.
“There were a lot of quick laps where I was fastest but also the new tyres made a big difference compared to free practice."
|Borja Garcia completes successful move to rally championship
15 June 2011
Borja Garcia made a remarkable start to his rally career last month when he finished second in class in the first round of the Spanish Rally Championship.
Garcia, whose career achievements include Spanish Formula 3 Champion, World Series by Renault Vice-Champion, several podiums in GP2 and a Toyota Formula One test, raced in his first ever rally at the Trofeo Costa Blanca.
Racing in a Ford Fiesta R2, against 15 seasoned competitors, Garcia was beaten by only one man - 2007 IRC champion Enrique Garcia Ojeda.
Borja will be racing this weekend in the Rallye de Ourense and will be hoping to further impress.
"I’m really enjoying this new challenge," said Borja. "The transition is of course not an easy one but it has gone well so far and I am determined to keep learning and to climb up the World Rally ladder.
"I want to thank Roberto Mendez from Team RMC, Felix Leon from Autolix and my managers at CJ Motorsport for supporting me in this move."
|Duncan Tappy bounces back to incredible Superleague Formula win
05 June 2011
After missing all of practice on Friday with a gearbox issue and then qualifying at the very back of the grid on Saturday as a result, Duncan Tappy, driving the Japan car, scored an incredible victory in the second race of the Superleague Formula Nations Cup’s visit to Assen.
Duncan passed John Martin (Australia) inside the last three minutes of the race to secure the win after both drivers had made it ahead of long-time leader Tristan Gommendy (France - Girondins de Bordeaux).
Having retired from the lead in race 1 with a throttle issue, Gommendy started the reversed-grid second race from pole position and led the early stages prior to the pit stop window opening.
The Frenchman lost his lead soon after to Andy Soucek (Turkey - Galatasaray) but when the Spaniard was forced to serve a drive through penalty for crossing the white line as he exited the pits, Gommendy was back in front.
His pace dropped towards the end of the race however and first Martin, then Duncan made their way past.
Duncan then closed up on the back of Martin in the dying stages before making his race-winning move into the first corner before pulling away to victory.
Duncan’s Japan has taken the lead of the Championship, level on points with Australia.
"That was a good result and just reward for the very hard work put in by the Atech Reid guys who run the Japan car," said Duncan.
"We had a difficult start to the weekend with some technical issues but we all kept our heads down and remained positive. In the end it paid off.
"I think today’s races showed once again why Superleague Formula is right up there in terms of quality racing and entertainment. Congratulations to everyone ot Superleague Formula for pulling off a superb meeting and a big thanks to Robin Webb."
|Sam Bird retains GP2 championship lead with third consecutive podium in Barcelona
22 May 2011
Sam Bird continued his strong start to the 2011 campaign with his third podium on the trot at this weekend’s GP2 Series round in Barcelona.
With concerns over tyre wear the main talk of the paddock, Sam and iSport took the bold decision to use free practice as a heavy fuel race run while the other teams went for a quick lap time.
When qualifying came around however, this did not seem to hamper Sam who earned himself a front row start, just 1/100th of a second off the pole time.
Saturday’s feature race saw the top men neutralise each other in the early stages and few changes at the front until the mandatory round of pit stops. Sam came in for his tyre change lying second, but a slight problem with the front left wheel lost him a few vital seconds, dropping him down to third place, where he finished the race for his third podium in as many starts.
At the post-race press conference, Sam commented: "It would be nice to say we could have won today, and that is a thought that may linger in the back of my mind for a while. The pit stop wasn’t particularly good, and when I was released it was into a train of backmarkers, which cost me quite a bit of time. I’m a little disappointed, but it’s still third position, which is not that bad."
The Sunday morning sprint race saw, as usual, the top eight feature race finishers reversed, with Sam starting in 6th. He made a good start to get up to 4th place and then held station in ’tyre management mode’. However, with severe tyre wear in the final laps and struggling for grip, he eventually yielded to Valsecchi and took the chequered flag in 5th place.
"That was a pretty tough race", said Sam afterwards. "On this occasion I think we have to hold our hands up and say that we didn’t get the car quite right. I was pretty much stroking the car around throughout the race today because I knew tyre wear would be an issue and yet we still seemed to eat into our rubber faster than the guys around us."
"When Davide [Valsecchi] caught up to me, I did manage to keep him behind me for a few laps but he had bags more grip than me and was forcing me to push beyond the limits of what my tyres had to offer. I knew I was right on the edge of the cliff and with these tyres, if you fall over the edge, then you will tumble down the order. So I let him through and just nursed the car home to pick up the points.
"It’s a little disappointing but I feel that that is the best that was on offer under the circumstances. We’ll go away, analyse the data and find where we can make improvements. It’s been a moderately good weekend overall and both iSport cars were in the points in both races, which is positive. A big thanks to the team, they’ve worked really, really hard as usual."
Sam is the only GP2 driver to have scored points in all four of this season’s GP2 Series races and still leads the Championship, level on points with van der Garde. The next round takes place in Monaco next weekend, 26th to 28th May.
|Sam Bird takes GP2 series lead after double podium
09 May 2011
Sam Bird made a strong start to his 2011 campaign with two podium finishes at Istanbul Park during this weekend’s GP2 Series opener.
Qualifying saw a tight duel between Sam and former F1 driver Romain Grosjean, with the Frenchman edging the Brit for pole position by a mere 8/100ths of a second. The rest of the field were further adrift with Filippi in third a full three tenths behind. This was a sign of things to come.
Indeed, Saturday’s feature race turned out to be a straight fight between Sam and Grosjean, with the two men lapping, at times, two to three seconds faster than the rest of the field.
The two front men pitted simultaneously but opted for different strategies, with Grosjean changing only the two rear tyres, and Sam all four. This meant a longer stop for Sam who exited the pits more than seconds behind Grosjean at which point the Dams driver must have thought the race was in the bag.
However, his lead gradually disintegrated as Sam set fastest lap after fastest lap and only the Frenchman’s experience and spirited defending enabled him to keep the young Brit at bay.
Grosjean took victory a mere 3/10ths of a second ahead of Sam, who also bagged the extra point for fastest lap of the race. Such was the pace of the two lead men that ART’s Jules Bianchi in third took the chequered flag a full 35 seconds further adrift.
Sunday’s sprint race saw Sam start seventh, by virtue of the reversed grid format. He made good progress up the field, courtesy of some typically skilful overtaking and was challenging for the final podium position when, with six laps remaining, the safety car was deployed following a crash further down the order.
With the track clear of any debris, the safety car came back into the pits with only one lap remaining. Sam stalked Charles Pic for two thirds of the final lap and then sliced inside him at turn 10 to grab third place and his second podium in as many days.
Sam was interviewed by GP2 Series at the end of the Istanbul race weekend:
GP2 Series: Sam, two podiums and right up there in the championship: I guess it’s been a pretty good weekend all round?
Sam: Yeah, absolutely: the aim this weekend was to come away with a bunch of points and get the ball running in the championship, and I think it started in really good form for myself and for the team. Nobody really knew what to expect here with the tyres and the track, it’s all a bit new to everybody, so I’m just very thankful that we’ve come away from the weekend with a good haul of points, and now we’ve got a base on which to improve on going into Barcelona.
GP2 Series: We were talking about the tyres yesterday, but today you’ve had to come from further back to get onto the podium: how difficult was it to control them and get up there today?
Sam: It was quite difficult: I couldn’t go as quick as I wanted to, and I think if I’d had clean air I could have really gone for it and gone really quickly today, because the car felt good. But it was just a case of looking after my tyres a little more, and kind of forcing the other guys into a couple of mistakes: I was trying to push them into mistakes but not push myself, if that makes any sense. It was quite difficult, they put up quite a fight, but we got there in the end: a little scare on the last lap [laughs] but we were able to get through that and get a podium.
GP2 Series: When Marcus [Ericsson] hit you?
Sam: Yeah. These things happen in racing, we’re all trying to get to the grid next door, and everybody’s committing themselves 100 per cent: sometimes people cross those lines of being on the edge to going over the edge, and these things happen. It’s racing, Marcus and I will have a hug, and we’ll get on just fine for the rest of the year [laughs].
GP2 Series: You were all over Pic for a few laps before the safety car, and I wondered if that would stop you moving up, but you had a nice move at turn 10 to get on the podium: talk me through the move.
Sam: I’d been lining him up for quite a few laps and I didn’t expect the safety car, so I was just biding my time before that: you could see the rear tyre going off, I could see the little band of rubber going on his tyre, so I thought in a couple of laps you’re going to be really struggling and I’ll pick you off nice and easily, but then the safety car came out and spoiled my plan a little bit! [laughs] So I had to get on with it a bit more!
GP2 Series: Nevertheless you got it done and you’re right there in the championship: does that mean anything for you and the team at this stage?
Sam: No, there are eight rounds to go: it doesn’t matter right now. What I’m focused on is that we’ve got a good basis on which to carry on, it doesn’t matter who’s leading after round 1, it matters who’s leading after round 9. It’s a very encouraging start for myself and for the team, we know we’ve got the package in order to win races and get podiums, and to hopefully fight for the title: it’s going to be very difficult, I hope I’ll be up there at the end, but it’s too early to even start looking at those sheets yet.
Sam leads the GP2 Series Championship, level on points with Grosjean. The next round takes place in Barcelona on 20th to 22nd May.
|Jean-Karl Vernay joins Peugeot for Le Mans 24 Hours
20 April 2011
Peugeot has signed Indy Lights champion Jean-Karl Vernay as its reserve driver for the 2011 Le Mans 24 Hours.
"J.K" and the nine other Peugeot drivers are set to take turns behind the wheel of the three official 908s at this weekend’s test day at Le Mans.
"We were looking for a reserve driver", explains Olivier Quesnel, Peugeot Sport Director. "We looked at a few of the discipline’s rising stars with a good track record and decided to offer a test to Jean-Karl Vernay this week. He has raced in a driver development series, in similar fashion to Sébastien Bourdais and Simon Pagenaud, in the United States in Indy Lights. He is young and fits the profile of our drivers. It’s also a way of us preparing for the future."
Jean-Karl therefore took part in an endurance race at Aragon this week, alongside the other Peugeot drivers. "He was reasonable in his approach," continues Pascal Dimitri, Peugeot Sport Team Manager. "He made constant progress, carefully followed our instructions and at no stage attempted to overstep the mark. Jean-Karl drove a fine last stint in the early hours, as the sun rose. It convinced us to include him in the team. He will therefore be at Le Mans this Sunday. He has yet to drive at the track, so the regulations state that he must complete 10 qualification laps in order to be able to take part in the 24 Hours of Le Mans."
"I am very pleased to be given this magnificent opportunity," concludes Jean-Karl. "This is my first professional racing driver contract. I would like to thank Peugeot Sport for having placed their faith in me like this. It’s a great achievement for me. I am proud to be able to help the team and the lead drivers go after the race wins."
|Indy Lights Champion JK Vernay has not given up hope
02 March 2011
Jean-Karl Vernay, Formula Renault Campus French Champion, Formula Renault 2.0 French vice Champion, Formula 3 Masters Podium finisher, Formula 3 Euro Series race winner, Formula 3 FIA Intercontinental Cup Runner-up, Firestone Indy Lights Champion
The 2011 IndyCar Series will kick off in a month’s time on the St Petersburg circuit, the one on which JK Vernay won first time out on American soil twelve months ago. Since then he has bagged the Indy Lights title, the IndyCar second division whose vocation is to promote its best drivers to the elite of single-seater racing in the USA. Unfortunately, despite a promising test this winter at Sebring in an IndyCar Dallara-Honda run by the Conquest team, the move up to the top category is proving more difficult for the French driver than expected.
In 2010, Jean-Karl was not only the best rookie, he also won the title as he led the championship from start to finish with nine podium finishes out of a possible thirteen, including five victories. He fulfilled his mission with panache, even though everything was new to him including the car, the circuits, the environment and the culture. In the eyes of the media and his numerous supporters the step up to the top category seemed a logical one. Had he not received among other awards the Rising Star Prize from the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association?
Jean-Karl Vernay said: "For a long time I believed in my chances of doing a full season, or at worst a partial one in the IndyCar Series, but my main partner has pulled out. Today, I’m free of all contracts and 100% ready to become involved in any major programme in Europe or the United States."
|Sam Bird joins iSport for 2011 GP2 Series
13 January 2011
Norfolk-based GP2 team iSport international announced their driver line-up for the 2011 Asia and European series in front of a packed house at the Autosport show in Birmingham on Thursday.
The exciting team line-up, which principal Paul Jackson hopes "will push us to the front of the grid once again", is completed by 23-year-old Brit Sam Bird and Swedish driver Marcus Ericsson, aged 20.
The two drivers join the most successful British team in the GP2 series, which has an enviable record of consistency. Indeed iSport have never finished outside of the top 5 since the series was launched in 2005, picking up both drivers and constructers championships in 2007, and enjoying victory in the Asia series last year.
Sam Bird is regarded as the hot prospect of British motorsport after announcing himself to the world as the runner up in the Formula BMW UK series at just eighteen years old. A promising first year in GP2 saw Bird finish a very creditable fifth in the driver’s championship, which might have been even higher but for some unfortunate technical issues.
The highlight of the season was undoubtedly the Monza weekend when Bird dominated the field, winning the feature race and finishing on the podium in the sprint. At iSport in 2011 he is hoping to emulate Lewis Hamilton, the last young British driver to come through GP2 and win the series.
Young Marcus Ericsson has shown extraordinary pace in his career to date, winning Formula BMW UK aged just seventeen. In 2009 a Japanese Formula 3 series win paved the way for an early switch in to GP2 for 2010, with Marcus becoming one of the youngest ever drivers in the series. In his debut season, Ericsson impressed many seasoned observers with a race win in Valencia. Kenny Brack, a former Indy 500 champion, was so impressed after seeing the racer during his Karting years, that he compared Ericsson to Alain Prost because of his precise and smooth driving style.
iSport expect the young Swede to thrive in the positive environment of their team that has encouraged other young stars such as Bruno Senna and Timo Glock to find the best form of their careers.