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Dawning Chorus for Bird?

As part of the Viva F1 Blogger's Swap Shop, guest writer Phil Jackson gives us his thoughts on Sam Bird's future.

The final weeks of the season have been pretty impressive for anyone keeping an eye on Sam Bird.

With an extended stay in Abu Dhabi providing the perfect stage for the GP2 driver, ending his rookie season, to show his talent.

A 15 place jump in the GP2 feature race and 3rd place in the rookie test time sheets just adding to an ever growing list of achievements the young Brit has racked so far in his fledgling career.

Having gone from, an unrepresentative, 18 placed grid slot Bird put on an impressive performance to climb all the way to third at the Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi. A course renowned for its limited overtaking spots, just ask Fernando Alonso.

The feat is even more extraordinary when you consider it took place in GP2, a formula with 24
identical cars making up the grid.

In the week that followed Bird got his first serious taste of Formula One during the young drivers test at Abu Dhabi. The full two day test with Mercedes GP undoubtedly coming due to an outstanding season in GP2.

Bird performed strongly on what is clearly one of his favourite tracks. He was given an important
role of testing the new 2011-spec adjustable rear wing for the Mercedes team, whilst also achieving an impressive third on the time sheets.

Bird’s CV, at 23, is pretty impressive. Two years in Formula BMW UK from 2004 onwards, finishing as runner up in the championship in ’05, was followed by a third place championship finish in Formula Renault UK in ’06. Progression through the ranks of F3 in ’07, ’08 and a hectic ’09 were rewarded with a GP2 seat for 2010.

Bird has performed well in GP2, and despite having abysmal luck through-out the year finished in fifth in his rookie season.

What does the future hold?

Seats in Formula One are rapidly becoming notoriously hard to pin down, with even talented drivers missing out. Nico Hulkenberg, for example, looks to have been shunned out even after that pole in Brazil.

Ousting him from his seat at Williams is GP2 champion Pastor Maldonado. Who, despite strong
running all season and a decent end of season test outing in Abu Dhabi, is rumoured to have got the seat due to a substantial cash backing.

But this does not mean that raw talent cannot reach the big time, and Bird should not be deterred.

Prior to the “rookie tests” in Abu Dhabi, Bird was concentrating on cementing his GP2 future, before looking into the pressure cooker of Formula One.

“I hope to be in GP2 next year, if not with the same team [ART] then with a very good team and try to win the title. But it’s too early to say on an F1 role” he told Autosport in early November.

Despite the massive British involvement in Formula One as a whole, there is currently a lack of
British drivers out on track.

Hopefully, from a patriotic point of view, Bird’s early promise can be a sound nesting, before his
career can start to fly in Formula One.

By Phil Jackson

3 Responses so far.

  1. Good piece.
    I hope you don't mind if I use this to plug a petition to get "turn 5" in Barcelona changed to "Bird Corner"

  2. Maverick says:

    I've been watching Sam Bird for a while on the back of some great Macau performances. Would love to see him make the big step up in 2012 but before then, he should be within a good shout of the GP2 title. Sadly, I wonder if he'll need to win it too, given the current drivers' market. However, he's getting the attention from the right people with a test with one of the four teams that really matter. Mercedes may even be the best of the bunch in terms of find a spot with the Mercedes-powered Force India.

  3. Problem I see for Bird is that while he is undoubtedly fast, there are still too many mistakes.
    He is partly unlucky, but occasional error have dropped him into the pack at races far, far too often.

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