In an exciting race that was eventually taken by young Frenchman Charles Pic, Bird drove up from the rear of the field to finish in a credible 9th position – something made even more spectacular as the Circuit de Catalunya is considered a track where passing is virtually impossible.
Driving his ART Grand Prix machine, Bird qualified in 3rd place while his teammate Jules Bianchi garnered for the opening event of the season; however by the exit of turn 1 on the first lap, Bianchi was out of the race following a clash with Christian Vietoris and Sam Bird was off the circuit with a damaged front wing. Following a pit stop for a quick nose change, Bird proceeded to pick off car after car after car during the rest of the race, particularly through the rather lumbering turn 5 – otherwise known as Seat. By the end of the race, Bird had climbed to the edge of the top eight and did indeed pick up a solitary point for registering the fastest lap – in fact, during the last two laps along Bird took a staggering out of Fabio Leimer.
It was crucial that Bird missed out on 8th place; the GP2 rules state that the top 8 finishing positions in the Feature Race swap around for the following morning’s Sprint Event – had Bird been able to take Leimer, the 23 year-old would have had pole position going into the next day. Regardless of what might have happened on Sunday, what mattered was that Sam Bird was by far the best driver of Saturday’s Feature Race – no offence to Pic, but as good as his drive to victory was, it was Bird’s slicing through the field that made sure this was not 43 laps of motorised sedation.
In honour of his fantastic race, The F1 & Motorsports Archive has started an online petition to get Turn 5 Seat at the Circuit de Catalunya renamed to “Sam Bird Corner”.