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GP2 NEWS 

Sam Bird returns to GP2 with Russian Time

Sam Bird Mercedes F1 2012

Sam Bird will return to the GP2 Series this year after sealing a last-minute deal with new squad Russian Time.

The 26-year-old Briton raced in the championship from 2010-11 with ART and iSport before switching to Formula Renault 3.5 last year.

"I am delighted to be joining Russian Time for the 2013 GP2 season and grateful to everybody involved, in particular [team boss] Igor Mazepa, for choosing me for this exceptional opportunity," said Bird.

"I look forward to working closely with the team and to helping them achieve their ambition of fighting for the team championship title".

Russian Time confirmed last month that it had taken over the entry previously held by iSport.

Team boss Mazepa believes that Bird's experience, which includes a GP2 win and seven further podiums as well as his work as reserve driver for the Mercedes Formula 1 team, will be of great benefit to the outfit.

"I think his experience and a strong winning attitude is exactly what we need at Russian Time to complete our extremely competitive line-up," he said.

"As a team, we would like to give Sam our full support and expertise to help bring him at the top of the standings.

"I am sure that with the addition of Sam to our team, we will reach our goal which is ambitious as we are aiming for the 2013 title."

Bird will partner former German F3 champion Tom Dillmann at the team.

The GP2 season starts this weekend at Sepang.

AUTOSPORT says...
Glenn Freeman, news editor

Russian Time was a late addition to the 2013 GP2 grid, but it has given itself a very strong platform to make an impact when the season kicks off this weekend in Malaysia.

Sam BirdThe team clearly has its own strong financial package, which has enabled it to take two drivers that it believes can make it a winner in its first season. Both are race winners in this category, and they have plenty of experience at this level.

But with a strong line-up comes added pressure. If the Russian Time cars are at the back for this weekend's season opener, nobody is going to be pointing any fingers at the driver line-up.

For Bird, this represents a chance to prove to the F1 paddock that his year spent racing in Formula Renault 3.5 really was "the best I have ever driven".

The World Series by Renault package is away from the watching eyes of F1 (even if the grid has its fair share of F1 'junior' drivers on it) so now the Briton has a chance to build on his progress from last year firmly in the spotlight.

Dillmann's career has been repeatedly hobbled by a lack of finance ever since his brief spell as a Red Bull junior which ended in 2007. Now he has a drive that comes without huge financial pressure, he can prove what he's capable of when all he has to worry about is the racing.

2013 GP2 line-up so far:

DAMS                 Marcus Ericsson    Stephane Richelmi
ART                  James Calado       Daniel Abt
Arden International  Johnny Cecotto Jr  Mitch Evans
Racing Engineering   Fabio Leimer       Julian Leal
Carlin               Felipe Nasr        Jolyon Palmer
Russian Time         Tom Dillmann       Sam Bird
Caterham Racing      Ma Qing Hua        Sergio Canamasas
Addax Team           Rio Haryanto       Jake Rosenzweig
Rapax                Stefano Coletti    Simon Trummer
Trident Racing       TBA                TBA
Hilmer Motorsport    TBA                TBA
Lazarus GP           Rene Binder        Kevin Giovesi
MP Motorsport        Daniel de Jong     Adrian Quaife-Hobbs
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