Russian Time have laid down a marker of their serious intentions for their first season in the GP2 Series by signing up Britain's Sam Bird as their second driver for the 2013 championship.
"I am pleased to announce Sam Bird as our second driver for Russian Time," said team principal Igor Mazepa, who added that Bird's "strong winning attitude is exactly what we need at Russian Time to complete our extremely competitive line-up."
The 26-year-old British driver has previously competed in two seasons of GP2 competition, making his bow with ART in 2010 and then moving to iSport International in 2011. However, he decided not to return to the series in 2012, opting instead for a season in Formula Renault 3.5 in which he finished the season in third place in the standings while also serving as the test and reserve driver for the Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 team.
"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 this week after the news of his return to the feeder series was announced.
"I look forward to working closely with the team and to helping them achieve their ambition of fighting for the team championship title," Bird added.
Although Russian Time is the newest team on the GP2 grid, having only been announced as joining the series on March 4 after iSport - Bird's former team in GP2 - decided it would have to pull out of the competition because of a shortage of funding sufficient to see out a whole season of racing. Russian Time bought iSport's two GP2/11 Dallara chassis along with much of the old team's infrastructure, equipment and personnel, making it a solid proposition for this year's title despite their late entry.
"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," insisted Mazepa. "As a team, we would like to give Sam our full support and expertise to help bring him at the top of the standings."
Bird will be racing alongside French driver Tom Dillmann, who impressed in the first GP2 pre-season test of 2013 at Jerez and who will be looking for a full season of racing in 2013 after being sidelined halfway through last season while racing with Rapax because of a shortfall in sponsorship funding.
Bird's signing leaves only Trident Racing and Hilmer Motorsport to announce their driver line-ups for the first race of the 2013 GP2 Series season, which begins on Friday with practice and qualifying at Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia.
2013 confirmed driver line-up
- Marcus Ericsson, Stéphane Richelmi
ART GP (formerly Lotus GP)
- James Calado, Daniel Abt
- Johnny Cecotto Jr., Mitch Evans
- Julian Leal, Fabio Leimer
- Felipe Nasr, Jolyon Palmer
- Sam Bird, Tom Dillmann
- Ma Qing Hua, Sergio Canamasas
- Jake Rosenzweig, Rio Haryanto
- Stefano Coletti, Simon Trummer
- TBA, TBA
- TBA, TBA
Venezuela GP Lazarus
- Rene Binder, Kevin Giovesi
- Adrian Quaife-Hobbs, Daniël de Jong