Sam Bird has decided on a move to Formula Renault 3.5/World Series by Renault for 2012, and has signed up with the Prague-based ISR team for the upcoming season.
"I am extremely pleased about this opportunity to drive for ISR in World Series by Renault," said the 25-year-old British driver. "World Series is a great Championship in which numerous Formula One drivers have shone in the past, and this year's field seems to be particularly competitive."
ISR team boss Igor Salaquarda clearly felt that the signing of Bird was quite a coup for his team.
"I am very happy to have Sam in my team," said Salaquarda. "He has experience of both F1 and GP2 and I feel confident that his talent will help us on the way to more success."
Bird has evidently decided that after two years in the GP2 Series there is little advantage to returning for a third in 2012. He made his début with ART in the 2009/10 GP2 Asia winter season which led to a full year with the team in the main GP2 Europe-based series.
In 2011 he switched to iSport International, and had a strong start to the season with three successive podium positions that put him at the top of the driver standings. Unfortunately the rest of the season didn't live up to expectations, and with the likes of Romain Grosjean, Jules Bianchi and Luca Filippi coming on strong he ended up finishing the year in a somewhat disappointing sixth place.
Bird is hoping for better things in 2012 in World Series by Renault by aligning himself with ISR, who were the 2010 runners-up and who also finished in third place in 2011 with a driver line-up that included Daniel Ricciardo, who has since signed up to drive for Scuderia Toro Rosso in the 2012 F1 season.
"ISR have a proven track record and I am really looking forward to joining forces with them," said Bird, who will also continue his work as Mercedes F1's reserve and development driver in 2012.
Bird will be racing alongside British-born American driver Jake Rosenzweig, who had been testing with GP2 teams over the close-season and had raced in the GP2 Final event in Abu Dhabi in November for the Barwa Addax Team. Instead of switching to GP2 in 2012, Rosenzweig has opted for a third season in the Formula Renault 3.5/World Series by Renault with ISR after spending 2010 with Carlin and 2011 with Mofaz Racing.
"I am very much looking forward to working with everyone at ISR this season and can not wait for the first test so that we can start developing the new car," said the 22-year-old. "I hope that this collaboration will produce many great results over the course of the season."
"I am very happy with our line-up, we have two talented drivers," said Salaquarda. "Sam's and Jake's experience could be a big advantage from this point of view.
"The new car will generate a lot of downforce compared to last year's, as it features DRS, launch control and other technology similar to the F1," he continued. "We will do our maximum to prepare the best cars for both our drivers and dearly hope to win our first World Series by Renault Championship title with them."