Mercedes to test Sam Bird in Abu Dhabi

2011 F1 testing

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Mercedes will run GP2 driver Sam Bird in the young drivers’ test at the end of the season.

Bird lies fifth in the GP2 championship and will contest the final two rounds of the championship at Yas Marina before his F1 test.

Team Principal Ross Brawn said:

Sam has done an impressive job in the GP2 Series during his first season. He is the highest-placed rookie in the championship order with some excellent results over the year.

Sam has been chosen due to his relevant current single-seater pedigree through his competition in GP2, the F3 EuroSeries and British F3 and as an added bonus, he will have experience of the track from his GP2 racing over the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix weekend. We look forward to working with Sam at the test and to seeing his progress and feedback over the two days.
Ross Brawn

Brawn’s claim that Bird is the highest-placed rookie in GP2 at the moment is not quite right – team mate Jules Bianchi, who is also a newcomer to the series, is two places ahead of him in the standings.

Bird has previously tested for Williams.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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22 comments on “Mercedes to test Sam Bird in Abu Dhabi”

  1. Congrats to Sam but I thought Bianchi in 3rd was the highest place rookie this year? Hire the wrong driver Ross?!

    1. Indeed – I was just adding that to the story when you commented!

    2. Maybe he would have liked to sign him, but Bianchi is already with Ferrari.

  2. Interesting. Could Bird be the next talent to emerge from Britain?

    I’ve not really followed GP2 much this season. Could anyone who has done tell me which drivers have impressed, and if any of them look like they could cut it in F1?

    1. McLarenFanJamm
      29th October 2010, 12:57

      Where can we view GP2 in the UK?

    2. Interesting. Could Bird be the next talent to emerge from Britain?

      I think the more challenging question is this: is there a place for Bird in Formula 1?

      The problem with Nico Hulkenberg right now is that he doesn’t really fit in anywhere. A uarter of the grid is German, and there are German drivers in just about every tier of the grid. You’ve got the fast drivers like Vettel, the medium drivers like Sutil and the slow drivers like Glock (though that’s more down to the car than anything else). And at the same time, you’ve got younger drivers like Vettel and Rosberg and older drivers like Heidfeld and Schumacher. The grid is saturated with German drivers, and there’s no real or obvious role for Hulkenberg to fill, unless you want to give him the title of Bad German Driver (just watch his starts and chicane-o-phobia).

      The same may well apply to Sam Bird. True, England doesn’t have nearly the same representation as Germany does, but Button and Hamilton have practically sewn up the public support for British drivers. Hamilton is the younger driver, Button the older. Both are fairly fast, and no driver is going to willingly typecast himself as the slow or bad driver. I think that if Bird got into the category, he’d struggle to find his niche.

      Could anyone who has done tell me which drivers have impressed, and if any of them look like they could cut it in F1?

      The big ones are Pastor Maldonado, Jules Bianchi, Sergio Perez and Sam Bird. Though there is talk that Jerome d’Ambrosio and/or Giedo van der Garde will join the grid. The problem with GP2 this season is that there’s a vaccuum at the front end. Three drivers graduated to Formula 1 this season – Nico Hulkenberg, Vitaly Petrov and Lucas di Grassi – and they were the powerhouses of GP2. Plus Romain Grosjean getting booted upstairs in the middle of last season, and Kamui Kobayashi also getting promoted despite results in the category that suggested he would struggle. It was an unintended consequence of letting three new teams into the sport and creating six available rides in the process. It would have been worse if USF1 had managed to get their act together, because they would have had another two seats to raffle off (though since they seemed intent on drawing drivers from the racing netherworld, just how much of an effect this would have had would be open to debate).

      The point is that when the 2010 GP2 season began, there was a void at the front end. Whoever won the season this year would be the driver who seized the advantage. Now, this may well have given a young driver a chance to shine when he would otherwise be overlooked because of the Hulkenbergs and Petrovs and di Grassis and Grosjeans dominating the grid. But the fact that Perez and Maldonado in particular were thoroughly troucned by these drivers when they all raced together in GP2 is a dark portent of things to come. We have to ask ourselves whether the level of talent in the sport will be as good as it could have been. No doubt Maldonado and Perez can cut it. Bianchi dominated Formula 3, but I’d say he’s going to need at least another year in GP2 before he can step up to the main game. As as for van der Garde … well, I have no idea who he is, and his resume reeks of a pay driver who never really had the results to go with his Superlicence (unlike, say, Petrov, who was second in the category). As for d’Ambrosio, well, DAMS have generally sucked this GP2 season, but Virgin seem to like him and some reports out of Germany or France (or maybe Brazil) say he’s put together 95% of the sponsor package Virgin asked for, so maybe he’s in with a shot. He’s done a lot of Friday running of late, which is odd because he’s replacing di Grassi on circuits di Grassi doesn’t know.

      1. Well, van der Garde… he did have some wins in GP2, so I guess he fits the same profile as Petrov, maybe slightly lower. But at the moment he is the only real hope for the netherlands to have a national driver. Or Ho Pin Tung, the Chinese guy who grew up in the area I live in.

        I Guess after Christjan Albers and Robert Doornbos…I would be glad for whoever will race for my country. It just makes watching the races a bit more fun.

        As for Bird, I didn’t watch all the GP2 this season – and there are only summaries here in Netherlands – but he stood out from the first time I saw him because of his overtaking courage/ability.
        So that could make him the English Kobayashi!

        1. The English already have Hamilton with this hability and that’s quite a package in itself.

      2. Thanks for that. I’m still baffled by your aversion to Hulkenberg, I think most of us would agree he’s had a reasonable season.

        And I remember Giedo van der Garde was test driver for Super Aguri then Spyker a few years ago. He strikes me as a pay driver…

        1. For the record, I’m not denying van der Garde being a paydriver, however, I think you could compare him to Petrov; pays for seat but races OK (when he stays on track). Other side of the spectrum is Sakon Yamamoto.

          Ah well, I’m just hoping.

          We all know Schumi’s first drive was paid. And we’ve all seen that Kobayashi didn’t exactly excell in GP2, but shines in F1.

          So, I guess someone also needs a bit of luck, and a car suiting his driving style to make an impression. I just hope both: that Giedo will get a chance and that he beats (preferably an established) his teammate.

        2. I’m still baffled by your aversion to Hulkenberg, I think most of us would agree he’s had a reasonable season.

          I just think he’s a really scrappy racer. His starts are terrible and he just seems really angry when he’s benhind the wheel. He needs to calm down.

      3. jose arellano
        29th October 2010, 20:21

        wait a minute… sergio perez dominated the the more experienced team mate van degarde..

        i mean the top 3 left. so the van de garde and other experienced one should been the next winners.. and i didnt happened…

    3. Bird has been quite impressive in GP2 although a little bit inconsistent. Brilliant race in Catalunya this year, reminded me of Kobayashi.

      Sergio Perez also looks like a great prospect. Money(TelMex) and talent, great move for Sauber.

      Maldanado was pretty consistent this year as would be expected from a veteran. I’m not sure he is F1 material. Williams would be better off sticking with Nico and Rubens. HRT would be a better fit for Pastor.

  3. Brilliant, met his mum a few years ago when I was karting at streatham. She was very proud of how he was doing and seemed very nice. It will be interesting to see whether he can progress even further

  4. They should concentrate with Nico & Schumacher until 2012 let Sam be with the team until then so if Schumi retires then he may take his seat.Won’t be a bad idea for preparing him for the future.

    1. I think at that moment Bird will drive in small team while Mercedes be able to choose from lots…

    2. Maybe MSC picked him out for Merc :)??????????stranger things have happened!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. Button and Hamilton are great reps for F1 in the UK, ab thanks to the pairs recent achievements they have helped increase UK media intrest in the sport.

    When Lewis burst onto the F1 scene he caught the attention of many Brits because he was quick and a likeable person, very enthusiastic and the first championship contender from the UK in over a decade, he gained the sport brand new fans, as well as making previously casual watchers (like myself) become certified F1 Fanatics! ;)

    As for Button, he had been in the sport for years, the majority of which he had been unlucky with poor cars, it meant when he had his chance at a title he was able to make his championship story a fairytail which made it emotional, not unlike Damon Hill’s 1996 triumph. And I’m going to have to stop here because I’ve got a lump in my throat… ;)

    1. Megawatt_Herring
      29th October 2010, 16:30

      I think the next Driver from Britain will most likly be Paul Di Resta, I would like to see him in the Force India next year maybe to replace Liuzzi or Sutil if he changes team, he has been given the opportunity to have some driving during friday practise.

  6. I must admit that surprises me. I would have believed they would give a DTM or Formula 3 EuroSeries rookie a shot at this test. But on the other hand it should not, because there barely is anyone who could be an option for the test. Bottas is with Williams, Sims is in my opinion not quite enough to make the jump for now, Paul Di Resta and Gary Paffett may not count as rookies, Bruno Spengler would have been my choice but he may be too old to profit from the test just like Jamie Green. And the less said about the other three Mercedes drivers without F1 races the better.

    1. Gary Paffett will probably be fielded for McLaren as he usually is. A great shame we can’t see the guy in action, he’s been relegated to DTM for a few seasons now. McLaren should start up a GP2 team and stick him in it.

  7. about time they got a Bird in F1


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