Sam Bird secured his first GP2 Series podium with an impressive performance that saw him control second place from lights to flag in the 2009-10 Asia Series finale in Bahrain.
The result came on the back of a strong performance of a different kind in race one, when the Briton, having suffered with a serious clutch issue off the line, slipped down to 20th before fighting his way back up to finish sixth.
Bird had knocked on the door of GP2 honours at his very first GP2 event, in Abu Dhabi late last year, with a front row qualifying result and a fastest lap of the race but a brake failure had robbed him of silverware, making the Bahrain result all the more welcome. This time, he was not to be denied, putting in a faultless drive, once again securing the fastest lap of the race, to finish his campaign in style.
“I'm slightly disappointed that I couldn't quite go for the win today, but a podium finish is satisfactory," the ART Grand Prix said, "My pace was on a par and, at times, faster than [winner Giacomo] Ricci's, but I didn't quite have enough rubber left at the end to make a move.”
After a late surge following his early season woes, Bird finished seventh in the championship, ahead of much-vaunted team-mate Jules Bianchi.
“As I have always said,” he concluded, “it's all about preparing for the main GP2 Series. This has been an ideal testing and learning ground for the forthcoming European season and I feel I have really gelled with the team. I want to say a big thank you to everyone at ART, as they gave me a great car today and have given me awesome support throughout this Asia Series. I'm looking forward to continuing working with them and I believe we can achieve great things together.“
The main GP2 Series kicks off in Barcelona on the weekend of 9 May, supporting the first European F1 event of the season.