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“GP2 Series: Bird returns with RUSSIAN TIME; Canamasas joins Caterham”

March 20, 2013

© GP2 Media Services.

© GP2 Media Services.

Mercedes F1 reserve driver Sam Bird will make a return to the GP2 Series this weekend, when he lines up with RUSSIAN TIME at Sepang.

The 26-year-old has already enjoyed two years in the category with ART Grand Prix and iSport, picking up a victory for the former at Monza in 2010.

Bird moved to the Formula Renault 3.5 Series last year with ISR Racing, picking up two wins, including a stellar pole-to-flag victory at Monaco.

His move to the Russian squad marks a key move for both parties – Bird, an experienced hand, will be aiming for a title tilt, while new team RUSSIAN TIME will be looking to the Briton to pull the team together.
It is a factor that team principal Igor Mazepa is extremely conscious of. Commenting about the signing, Mazepa said, “I think [Bird’s] experience […] is exactly what we need at RUSSIAN TIME to complete our extremely competitive line-up.”
He continued, “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!”

With Tom Dillmann occupying the second seat at RUSSIAN TIME, the team have managed to secure a reasonably strong driver line-up going into their first season of GP2 competition.
For his part, Bird is glad to be on the grid before the season start. “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,” said Bird. He added, “I look forward to working closely with the team and to helping them achieve their ambition of fighting for the team championship title”.

Bird and Dillmann certainly have experience and they will need to drag every ounce of it from deep within if they are serious about a title challenge.
As for RUSSIAN TIME, the new boys may find life at this level a tough prospect; however unlike previous slot holder’s iSport, this team does not appear to stuck for cash – for now at least {note 1}.

Meanwhile at Caterham, another former Renault 3.5 driver has joined the fold. Sergio Canamasas has signed up with F1 junior team to race alongside former Chinese Touring Car Champion Ma Qinghua.
The Spaniard raced a partial schedule in GP2 last year with Venezuela GP Lazarus, recording a best finish of 11th at Monza; however he achieved notoriety when he “missed” black flag for several laps during the closing race in Singapore, despite repeated radio messages and feverishly waved signs.
A native of Madrid, Canamasas has raced in Formula 3, Renault 3.5 and GP2 since 2007, but has yet to win a race in any formula.

At the aforementioned Venezuela GP Lazarus, Kevin Giovesi will set up shop alongside Rene Binder.
It will be a massive jump for the Italian, who claimed the European F3 Open Copa Class in 2012; a category several levels below his new challenge – this could either be a brilliant move or one that will bite. One can only hope it is the former for Giovesi.

It has also been rumoured that Trident Racing and Hilmer Motorsport will announce their drivers today, Kevin Ceccon and Nathanael Berthon potentially joining the former, while Conor Daly and Pal Varhaug may be set to join the latter {note 2}.

{note 1}
“GP2 Series: Dillmann joins new RUSSIAN TIME team; Coletti and Calado top final test” (TheMotorsportArchive.com; Leigh O’Gorman)

{note 2}
“Berthon e Ceccon con Trident” (ItaliaRacing.net)

2012 GP2 Series field (as of March 19th)
DAMS:                  Marcus Ericsson      Stephane Richelmi
Art Grand Prix:        James Calado         Daniel Abt
Arden:                 Johnny Cecotto Jr    Mitch Evans
Racing Engineering:    Julian Leal          Fabio Leimer
Carlin:                Felipe Nasr          Jolyon Palmer
RUSSIAN TIME:          Sam Bird             Tom Dillmann
Caterham:              Sergio Canamasas     Ma Qinghua
Barwa Addax:           Jake Rosenzweig      Rio Haryanto
Rapax:                 Stefano Coletti      Simon Trummer
Trident:               tba
Hilmer Motorsport:     tba
Venezuela GP Lazarus:  Rene Binder          Kevin Giovesi
MP Motorsport:         Adrian Quaife-Hobbs  Daniel de Jong
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