Sam Bird has signed a deal with Starworks Motorsport to compete in three endurance races of the 2014 United Sports Car Championship. The GP2 Series runner-up will race at Daytona in January, as well as at Sebring and Petit Le Mans later in the year, in the LMPC category.
“I am very pleased to have confirmed this three race program with Starworks and I would like to thank Peter Baron for giving me this opportunity,” commented Sam.
"This will be my first foray into LMP endurance racing as well as my first time competing in America, so it’s a ’double first.’ My management and I are continuing to consider various opportunities for a more comprehensive racing program. Quite a few interesting avenues are open to us across a range of racing disciplines and we expect to make further announcements in the new year.”
Starworks owner Peter Baron added: “We follow the GP2 Series and Formula One and I was stunned to learn that Sam was available and looking to North America for new opportunities.
"We’ve been fairly successful in bringing open-wheel drivers into sports car racing and tapping into that talent. I’m looking forward to working with a driver like Sam who brings a lot of experience with him from some big teams and can contribute heavily to our program.”
Sam Bird Awarded Graham Hill Trophy 02 December 2013
Sam Bird has been awarded the Graham Hill Trophy at the British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC) Annual Awards today.
The Trophy is awarded for the ’Most Meritorious Performance by a British Driver in Single-Seater Racing’ and was given to Sam in recognition of his achievements in GP2 Series this season.
Sam finished runner-up in the Championship, narrowly missing out on the title after achieving five race wins, the most of any driver. He also secured the Teams’ Title for debutant team RUSSIAN TIME.
Previous recipients of the Graham Hill Trophy include Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button and Dario Franchitti.
Receiving his trophy, Bird said: "I am very proud to have been chosen by the BRDC to receive this award. It is a true honour to join the list of illustrious names that have held this Trophy before me."
Sam Bird awarded Pirelli Trophy 04 November 2013
This year’s Pirelli Trophy winner is Sam Bird, the GP2 Series Vice-Champion, who took five wins for Russian Time and is also a reserve driver for Mercedes in Formula One.
The Pirelli Trophy, which rewards the GP2 driver judged to have made the best use of his tyres throughout the season, was presented to Bird by Pirelli’s racing manager Mario Isola.
Bird was voted for by an international panel of F1 journalists, winning the poll overwhelmingly by receiving five times more votes than any other driver.
The panel concluded he maximised the capabilities of the tyres throughout the season better than anyone else, adopting a driving style that extracted the maximum from them and benefiting from some crucial strategic decisions, such as opting to change the rear tyres only in Monaco to claim a feature race win.
The Russian Time driver secured another notable feature race win at Spa, from pole position. Other race victories for Bird took place in Bahrain, Great Britain and Singapore.
Receiving his trophy, Bird commented: "I’m absolutely delighted to have been given this prize by Pirelli. Getting the most out of the tyres and the strategy has been a very important part of GP2 this year, which can really make the difference in a race. That’s a challenge that we’ve really enjoyed as a team. I really hope that the recognition this prestigious award brings will boost my career prospects in future."
Another win for Sam Bird as title showdown looms 23 September 2013
Fifth win of the season in Singapore keeps Sam firmly in the GP2 title hunt
Sam Bird took a dominant lights-to-flag victory in Singapore on Sunday, in a race that he controlled throughout.
But the win was built on a battling performance in Saturday’s race one, where he earned the reverse grid pole for Sunday despite being forced as far down the field as 16th.
Speaking about Sunday’s victory, he said: "The start was good and then it was just about controlling my lead. With the level of degradation here, it was about being very disciplined and judging the gap.
"Ericsson could catch up a bit, but I could take it easy and when he was getting too close I could pull away.
"But the real achievement this weekend was yesterday. Without the drive yesterday, I would not be in this position today to do what I did."
The RUSSIAN TIME driver had faced a challenge in Saturday’s race one after being impeded in qualifying. Although the offending driver was penalised, the incident still left Sam starting from 10th on the grid.
A wheel gun failure during his pitstop dropped him further down the field, but a combination of controlled aggression, expert overtaking and mature tyre management enabled him to battle back.
The superb recovery drive saw him snatch the coveted eighth-place finish, earning him pole position for Sunday’s race two - under GP2’s rules, the top eight finishers from Saturday’s race are reversed to form the front of the race two grid.
He said: "Overall, I think it was a strong weekend considering what we went through. It’s nice to win races, but the bigger picture is to win the teams’ championship and hopefully the drivers’ one as well. At the moment we are still leading the teams’ and it’s very close in the drivers’. Fingers crossed."
Sam lies second in the drivers’ title race, seven points off the lead, with a total of 48 points up for grabs at the final round in Abu Dhabi, on 1-3 November during the Formula One Grand Prix weekend. RUSSIAN TIME lead the teams’ championship.
Pole, podium, points aplenty and P2 in title race 09 September 2013
Another Dominant GP2 Weekend for Sam Bird in Monza
Autodromo de Monza, Italy: another iconic circuit, following Spa Francorchamps two weeks ago, another pole position for Sam Bird and for a long while, it looked as if a fifth race win of the year was inevitable.
However, a reluctant right rear wheel during the compulsory tyre change pit stop lost the RUSSIAN TIME driver valuable time and ultimately cost him the race win.
Sam was philosophical and typically supportive of his team after having to settle for second at the chequered flag: "Sometimes you have good pitstops, sometimes you have bad pitstops," he said.
"Today was unfortunate, but over the course of a season it happens, and it happens to everybody. I’ve had some fantastic pitstops from the guys, this is the first one that hasn’t quite gone our way, but it evens itself out."
Starting from seventh in Sunday’s sprint race, Sam made an excellent start and drove a measured race to take fourth place and further strengthen his championship title credentials.
Sam now lies second in the drivers’ title race, only six points off the leader with two rounds remaining, while RUSSIAN TIME lead the team championship despite this being their first year in GP2.
The next race takes place in Singapore on 20-22 September during the Formula One Grand Prix weekend.
Sam Bird’s summer of success continues at Spa 26 August 2013
Sam Bird added Spa Francorchamps to his 2013 CV of success with a pole position and win that keep him right in the hunt for the championship.
The victory makes the RUSSIAN TIME racer the only four-time winner so far this GP2 season, adding another historic circuit to a tally that also includes wins at Silverstone and Monaco.
And, just as with his three previous victories, the Mercedes AMG Petronas development and reserve driver also had the satisfaction of seeing one of his F1 colleagues take pole position in the main event.
Bird had been expected to face pressure early in the race from rivals using different tyre strategies, but he defended his lead away from the line, then calmly managed the re-start after a safety car period.
This left him able to build an advantage that lasted through the pitstop and onwards to a seven-second victory - his third feature race win of the year.
He said: "I had a bit of a twitch going through Eau Rouge first time which enabled Calado to have a little sniff going into Turn 5, but after that it was fairly plain sailing.
"It was a really great job from RUSSIAN TIME because the car they gave me was very, very good. It was just a matter of controlling the speed with the last ten laps."
Although his sprint race was blighted by an engine misfire, he was still able to comfortably out-score his three main championship rivals over the weekend, setting up a potentially thrilling climax to the GP2 title fight.
He said: "We’ll see what happens in the next races, but for sure it’s close. I think up to the last round of the championship, the positions you see right now will not be the positions you see then. We’re within touching distance, and there are also people behind making moves forward as well."
Bird will return to action at Monza on the weekend of September 6-8.
Brands Hatch Podium for Duncan Tappy and Von Ryan Racing 12 August 2013
Duncan Tappy earned Von Ryan Racing’s second British GT Championship podium of the season with a dogged drive at Brands Hatch.
As usual this season the #9 McLaren MP4-12C was one of three cars carrying a 75kg weight penalty, and this meant that Tappy and team-mate Gregoire Demoustier could qualify no better than 19th.
However, their times stacked up well against non-handicapped McLarens, so the team went into the race quietly optimistic – and Demoustier proved that confidence to be well-founded with a sensational climb through the field to take the lead.
Unfortunately, when Tappy emerged from the pits after the driver change-over he had to negotiate his way past a GT4 entrant just as the Beechdean Aston Martin came round on warmer tyres, and the chance of victory was gone.
With the weight penalty holding him back, he had no realistic hope of re-capturing the lead but produced an hour-long masterclass in controlled driving to successfully defend second place from a pair of racy BMWs that were running without ballast.
He said: "We were quite happy in practice and gave Greg a few more laps to learn the place because he hasn’t been here before. We qualified 19th, which is nothing special though fully expected given our weight handicap, but we knew that people generally put the B drivers in first and Greg could really make a move in that position.
"He had a few steady laps to start with to get settled in, then got stuck behind a Ferrari for a bit, but when he got his confidence he started to overtake everybody. He caught up the Beechdean Aston and overtook him, so we were in the lead of the race when it handed over to me.
"The pitstop went really well, with no issues, but the Aston had pitted before us and was out there on a fresh set of tyres. The Astons and BMWs were like lightning all weekend and as I came out of the pits I was overtaking a GT4 so they snatched the lead.
"Despite the ballast, once my tyres were up to temperature I wasn’t going to let that happen with anyone else and I spent the rest of the race having to defend because the other guys didn’t have the weight. But I know the place well and I held on to the end of the race.
"I’m a little bit annoyed that the win slipped through our hands but overall second was a really good result given the qualifying position and the weight. Our approach was to concentrate on the race, and it really worked for us.
"It was a fantastic team effort and just reward for everyone at Von Ryan Racing."
Sam Bird dominates F1 fan poll 23 July 2013
A poll among readers of an independent motorsport website has seen Sam Bird streets ahead of the opposition as the up-and-coming driver they’d most like to see racing in Formula One next year.
The Crash.net poll asked fans to vote among many of the drivers either currently working as testers and reserves for an F1 team, or who took part in the recent young drivers’ test at Silverstone.
Sam was the run-away winner with 42 per cent of the vote, far ahead of Williams tester Susie Wolff and the current title-holders in GP2 and World Series by Renault.
Sam said: “This amazing show of support from racing fans means a lot. Let’s hope they get heard! I’m pushing as hard as I can on track to make it happen.”
Sam Bird reigns supreme at Silverstone 01 July 2013
Sam Bird’s GP2 championship challenge marches on following a superb victory in the Silverstone feature race while his title rivals faltered.
Just as at Monaco in the previous round, the Brit followed his 2012 World Series by Renault win with another triumph - this time leading home a double podium for his team RUSSIAN TIME, moving them up to second in the team championship.
Sam said: "I’ve got to say thanks to the team because we are getting better and faster and improving all the time. They’re working exceptionally hard.
"They are the first people coming to the track every day and the last ones to leave - there is a real energy around the team right now, they really want to win."
Snetterton podium for Duncan Tappy 18 June 2013
Duncan Tappy earned his first British GT Series podium at Snetterton, as he and team-mate Gregoire Demoustier carved through the field to take third place.
Qualifying for the first race took place in torrential rain, posing a set-up challenge for teams. The Von Ryan Racing McLaren did not grab the best starting position, but Demoustier would soon put that right.
Starting 14th, he took advantage of some lap one chaos to make up some early places, then set about methodically picking off the opposition. By the time Duncan took over the car the Frenchman had put it into what would end up being a podium position.
Duncan said: “Greg had a strong first lap and went from 14th to 8th as there were accidents ahead. He then picked off another three cars – once he got past one of the SLSs he got some fresh air and put in some really quick laps.
“In the pit stop we made up another place and then I just had to hold the position and eventually ended up being third. It was a slightly uneventful stint for me as I just had to keep it on the road and bring it home.”
Race two saw the duo cross the line a creditable 11th, after a poor starting position was compounded by a flare-up of the ABS problem that had plagued them in their first race at Rockingham.
Duncan said: “I had to try to drive around it again, but ended up having to pit early to avoid any more damage. Greg got in and found some really good pace to bring the car home 11th. It wasn’t a bad result given we’d had a big problem, but we need to understand what that was for the next race.
“Overall, I’m very happy to have a podium for the team. It’s a great reward for everyone at Von Ryan Racing, Greg’s done very well too this year and now finally everyone’s got a result that shows how their hard work has paid off.
“But this is just the beginning – I hope we can get some more like this.”
Duncan Tappy returns to Blancpain Series with Black Falcon Mercedes 29 May 2013
Sports car ace Duncan Tappy is to expand his schedule this season by returning to the Blancpain Endurance Series with the Nurburgring 24 Hours-winning Black Falcon Mercedes team.
Tappy, a class winner and Pro-Am driver of the year last season, will team up with the squad to race a Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG for the rest of the season from this weekend at Silverstone.
He told the Blancpain website: "I am really looking forward to joining such a top team like Black Falcon and can’t wait to get started at my home track. Silverstone should be good for the Mercedes SLS AMG GT3 as it is a very stable car in the quick corners.
"I have a lot of experience driving the SLS road car so I will have a good feeling right away. We’ll see how much different the GT version feels at the weekend."
He will race alongside Britain’s Oliver Morley and Ukraine’s Andrii Lebed, following the former’s decision to move up from the Gentlemen Trophy category in order to re-gain the competitiveness that saw him take a Pro-Am class win at the Nurburgring last year.
He said: "That’s why I wanted to move back to Pro-Am. Duncan was someone I met last year when he was racing the ART McLaren and I’m excited to be able to put him in the car."
Tappy will continue to race a McLaren in British GT for Von Ryan Racing. He said: "I’m delighted to be joining Black Falcon for the remainder of the Blancpain and hope I can help them to build on their already impressive record of success.
"It’s great to get a second programme for the season, which was always my goal, and to be able to show my talents to another manufacturer."
Sam triumphs in Monaco again 27 May 2013
A year after his Monaco victory in World Series by Renault, Sam has yet again triumphed in the Principality by romping to a stunning win in the GP2 feature race, taking the chequered flag a full 22 seconds ahead of his nearest pursuer.
"First and foremost, this was a great victory for RUSSIAN TIME and I am delighted for Igor Mazepa and the rest of the team," said Sam at the end of the weekend.
"A win is a win and all feature races are worth 25 points but there is no denying that Monaco is a little bit special and for this brand new team to write their name in the Monaco GP2 record books is a massive achievement."
The victory came when the race re-started after a 15-car turn one accident, in which Sam’s car was damaged. He said: "The start of the race was hugely chaotic and we definitely dodged a bullet there. We were fortunate that the red flag gave us time to replace my rear wing after Ceccon ran into me in the melee. As it happens that contact would hurt me the next day.
"After Evans pitted I was able to control the race quite comfortably and without taking any risks. I love racing here in Monaco and to be on the top step of the podium here two years in a row in two different categories is a real privilege."
Unfortunately, after the triumph of the feature race the next day’s sprint did not go so well after lingering damage from the crash made itself known.
Sam said: "The sprint race didn’t give us the outcome we were after. We were quite comfortably in the points and going for the bonus points for fastest lap when I had a problem with the rear of the car. I came into the pits for a check but there was not a lot the team could do other give the car a very quick look over and put on a fresh tyres.
"I was able to set the fastest lap of the race almost immediately but the rear of the car still felt seriously out of balance. After the race, the team found that something had given way in the rear right suspension, probably a delayed consequence of the Ceccon incident on Friday.
"At any rate, the enduring memory will remain our feature race victory. Then on Sunday I was back on F1 duty with MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS Formula 1 Team and to watch with them as Nico took a great victory capped off an excellent weekend. I’m off to Canada with Mercedes in ten days’ time and then bring on Silverstone!"
Loose wheel derails Duncan’s Silverstone glory bid 26 May 2013
A possible Silverstone British GT victory slipped away from Duncan and his Von Ryan Racing team-mate Gregoire Demoustier when he was forced into the pits for a lengthy repair.
As usual, the duo were carrying the handicap of an extra 75kg of ballast in their McLaren MP4-12C - but, despite this, they managed 13th place in qualifying and started the race as the top McLaren.
Duncan said: "Qualifying was very good, and we knew our race pace was going to be strong. Greg started, had a pretty good first stint and got up to as high as, I think, fifth. Then there was a safety car and the team opted to pit early."
Unfortunately when Duncan took the car out for his stint he found the right rear wheel was loose: "When I went to push the rear of the car started to snake around all over the place, so I brought it carefully back into the pits."
There the team found the loose wheel had damaged an upright, and 15 minutes were needed to change it.
Both drivers went out for further stints, but the chance of a good result was long gone and they took the flag 15 laps down in 32nd - Duncan signing off with a very quick 2:07.092 lap at the end.
He said: "I honestly believe that without the mistake, and if we’d carried on, a win was on the cards. We were looking very, very strong and the pace of the car was fast. Apart from the mishap the team did a very good job and hopefully our luck will change soon."
The Avon Tyres British GT Championship returns to action at Snetterton on June 15. Further news regarding Duncan’s 2013 racing programme is expected very shortly.
Top-10 debut for Duncan at challenging Rockingham 06 May 2013
Duncan’s first British GT race of the season saw him overcome a sizeable weight handicap and a compromised qualifying session to power his car to a top-10 position - only for a technical failure to send it tumbling back down the field.
However his racing partner Gregoire Demoustier then repeated the feat to take the duo to a top-10 finish.
The weekend’s visit to Rockingham Motor Speedway in Northamptonshire was the first-ever for Gregoire and the Von Ryan Racing team. It was also Duncan’s first British GT race of the season.
And the race was an eventful one. British GT rules state that driver pairings must consist of a gold and a bronze-rated driver. However Duncan and Greg are classed as gold and silver drivers respectively.
This meant they must drive with 75kg of ballast on board. As a result the car’s single-lap performance was heavily compromised and they could only manage to qualify in 19th position.
However Duncan’s opening stint in the car was a stormer, featuring numerous overtakes that allowed him to battle forward to seventh place.
Following his hard work the car suffered an ABS failure, leaving the brakes ineffective for several laps and forcing him back down to 17th place. Fortunately a quick-thinking decision to disable the ABS altogether allowed him
to keep racing.
A pit-lane reset at the driver change-over saw the ABS partially restored and an excellent run from Greg then took the car back up to ninth place at the chequered flag.
Speaking after the race, Duncan said he was pleased to bring home a very encouraging result given the weight handicap and the brake issues.
He said: "I’d like to say thanks and well done to Von Ryan Racing and Greg Demoustier for all the hard work during this very encouraging first weekend.
"We achieved a lot achieved despite a few technical issues, and we have a lot of work ahead, but there are also plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the future."
Bahrain triumph as Sam Bird takes debut win for RUSSIAN TIME 22 April 2013
Sam Bird showed his speed and determination at Bahrain’s Sakhir Circuit to earn new GP2 team RUSSIAN TIME a maiden victory with a near lights to flag win.
After thrilling the crowds with a sensational start to the feature race, threading his way through weaving cars to leap from ninth to third by the first corner, he was able to secure a points finish and a strong starting position for Sunday’s sprint.
In another strong first lap he found his way past rivals including pole-sitting team-mate Tom Dillman to seize the lead - and never let it go on his way to victory in the closest finish in GP2 history.
Early in the race Sam built a lead of 3.8sec over Stefano Coletti but, as tyres deteriorated across the field late in the race, Coletti and Felipe Nasr began to close. The final lap of the race saw an epic battle between Sam and Nasr until, at the chequered flag, he crossed the finish line a hairsbreadth ahead.
Afterwards, Sam hailed a fantastic result: "Being back in GP2 is already feeling very good; being back in the feeder series to Formula One is a great place to be. To win for RUSSIAN TIME after only four races of existence is a very good team achievement.
"The getaway was pretty good - I managed to maintain P2 on the first lap, got into the lead, and maintained it until the end of the race.
"As the laps were coming down I knew Coletti and Nasr would come back at me because their cars are typically very strong in terms of tyre management.
"We have to look at what we can do to improve and close the gap towards what they’re doing. Having said that, I was not worried. I was never letting that win get away. A gap is a gap and a win is a win."
He said the team, which only made its GP2 debut the previous round in Malaysia, was building on what it learned each race: "We’re still working on our set-up - we’re a new team, working on new theories, and we’re improving all the time. Compared with the feature race, we managed to add quite a few more laps in terms of tyre durability.
"There’s a lot of room for improvement and an opportunity to change the car for Barcelona; we already have a few ideas. The cars will go back now and get fully prepped, ready to rock and roll in Barcelona. I like Barcelona and I’m excited about what lies ahead for RUSSIAN TIME."
Russian Time calls Sam back to GP2 19 March 2013
RUSSIAN TIME have announced today that Sam Bird will join their team for the 2013 GP2 Series campaign. Sam, whose GP2 career records one win, eight podium finishes, two pole positions and seven fastest laps, will partner Tom Dillmann at the new team.
RUSSIAN TIME Team Principal Igor Mazepa commented: "I am pleased to announce Sam Bird as our second driver for RUSSIAN TIME. I think his experience - which includes a Reserve Driver role at MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS Formula One Team, and a strong winning attitude is exactly what we need at RUSSIAN TIME to complete our extremely competitive line-up.
"As a team, we would like to give Sam our full support and expertise to help bring him at the top of the standings. I am sure that with the addition of Sam to our team, we will reach our goal which is ambitious as we are aiming at the 2013 Title!"
Sam Bird added: "I am delighted to be joining RUSSIAN TIME for the 2013 GP2 season and grateful to everybody involved, in particular Igor Mazepa, for choosing me for this exceptional opportunity. I look forward to working closely with the team and to helping them achieve their ambition of fighting for the team championship title"
Sam Bird tops the bill at Mercedes F1 demo event in Malaysia 17 March 2013
Sam Bird headlines Mercedes F1 demonstration in Kuala Lumpur.