Bahrain triumph as Sam takes debut win for RUSSIAN TIME
Sam Bird showed his speed and determination at Bahrain's Sakhir Circuit to earn new GP2 team RUSSIAN TIME a maiden victory with a near lights to flag win.
After thrilling the crowds with a sensational start to the feature race, threading his way through weaving cars to leap from ninth to third by the first corner, he was able to secure a points finish and a strong starting position for Sunday's sprint.
In another strong first lap he found his way past rivals including pole-sitting team-mate Tom Dillman to seize the lead - and never let it go on his way to victory in the closest finish in GP2 history.
Early in the race Sam built a lead of 3.8sec over Stefano Coletti but, as tyres deteriorated across the field late in the race, Coletti and Felipe Nasr began to close. The final lap of the race saw an epic battle between Sam and Nasr until, at the chequered flag, he crossed the finish line a hairsbreadth ahead.
Afterwards, Sam hailed a fantastic result: "Being back in GP2 is already feeling very good; being back in the feeder series to Formula One is a great place to be. To win for RUSSIAN TIME after only four races of existence is a very good team achievement.
"The getaway was pretty good - I managed to maintain P2 on the first lap, got into the lead, and maintained it until the end of the race.
"As the laps were coming down I knew Coletti and Nasr would come back at me because their cars are typically very strong in terms of tyre management.
"We have to look at what we can do to improve and close the gap towards what they’re doing. Having said that, I was not worried. I was never letting that win get away. A gap is a gap and a win is a win."
He said the team, which only made its GP2 debut the previous round in Malaysia, was building on what it learned each race: "We’re still working on our set-up - we're a new team, working on new theories, and we’re improving all the time. Compared with the feature race, we managed to add quite a few more laps in terms of tyre durability.
"There’s a lot of room for improvement and an opportunity to change the car for Barcelona; we already have a few ideas. The cars will go back now and get fully prepped, ready to rock and roll in Barcelona. I like Barcelona and I'm excited about what lies ahead for RUSSIAN TIME."