Bird and Ericsson reportedly sign with iSport

Italian magazine Italiaracing has reported that iSport has filled both of its seats for 2011 with 2nd year drivers Sam Bird and Marcus Ericsson.  If confirmed, Paul Jackson’s team has put together a very solid lineup that will hopefully lift iSport back into the top 3 spots for 2011 and will have its drivers seriously contending for wins this season.

2011 was a disappointing season for Paul Jackson and iSport, especially after dominating GP2 Asia with Valsecchi and Turvey, with the Italian taking the title last season.  Much more was expected from the team and the 2 drivers, with only 1 in-extremis win by Valsecchi  at the last race of the season in Abu Dhabi, and 3 podiums for the team all season.

The deal, as reported, is for both GP2 Asia and the Main series, so we will be seeing Sam and Marcus from next month’s Abu Dhabi tests with the new iSport machinery.

Sam Bird was one of the best drivers of 2010, starting off strong and finishing off strong, with a mid-season where he struggled and found it hard to keep up the pace.  Bird is clearly capable of much more this season, even if he was with ART during 2010.  Though a fear with most ART drivers (read this older post), Bird seems to have stood up well as the ART “second” driver last year, with no clear outward favoritism for Nicolas Todt’s boy Jules Bianchi.  Maybe Bianchi’s lackluster season helped, or maybe Bird proved strong enough to continuously challenge for equal attention from this team.   He substitutes Oliver Turvey as the British driver at iSport, something that should definitely make Paul Jackson proud.

On the other hand, Marcus Ericsson was one of the biggest disappointments in 2010.  Part of David Sears’ bet for 2 strong but inexperienced driver last year, the team had a very difficult time getting into the points.  We have all seen Marcus’ potential in F3, so it is clear that 2011 will be a much better year for him, where he will be challenging consistently for wins and a top 5 spot in the final standings.  Few teams will give him a stronger package than iSport.

With these reported signings, the number of confirmed drivers is up to 9 out of 26 seats.

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9 Responses to Bird and Ericsson reportedly sign with iSport

  1. Fujer says:

    So happy Marcus gets another shot to show his potential.. Last year was as you wrote a disappiontment but i dont think its all Marcus fault. Even Luca Filippi couldnt get the car to perform when he stood in for Kral and Filippi is one of the more experienced driver out there when it comes to GP2. Marcus wrote his and the teams biggest problem last year was finding that extra .5 sec that the better teams find between practice and quali. His race pace was often pretty solid so a step up in quali pace is what he needs to find.

    • gp2 insider says:

      Fujer, completely agree with you and with the potential Marcus has. At the end, I still believe the season was a disappointment, not only for us but for him as well! That .5 second that you speak of is what surprises me the most with such an experienced team, and it is hard to understand why the team was so inconsistent, even with Filippi at the wheel while Kral was injured. Marcus does well by switching teams, and will surely be a good fit with iSport.

  2. JohnD says:

    We all have seen this year´s Supernovas´s performance in the post season testing when Bird, Turvey and Gonzales drove their car – Bird 11th respectively 16th in the afternoon, Turvey 11th respectively 8th in the afternoon, Gonzales 19th in both sessions. On the opposite Kral did P2 with all the three teams he tested with (Day1 5th/7th, Day2 4th/2nd, Day3 2nd/12th with engine problem, Day4 2nd/3rd) and Marcus with Supernova on the first Day could only do 11th/10th with the car he knows perfectly compared to the cars he did not know by Addax and Isport (Day3 5th/6th and Day4 6th, 11th)…

  3. Jonathan W says:

    But in the other hand:
    The last driver in the last test of 2010 trying

    to conquer Marcus’ time in the Super Nova car was

    Sam Bird. As you may remember Marcus’ best time

    from day 1 was 1:48.657s. If you compare the

    times of day 3’s afternoon session with the

    session where Marcus set his lap time the track

    was about 9 tenths quicker. Bird set his a lap of

    1:48.239 day 3 and if you add 0.9 seconds to that

    and ask me, I would say that Marcus beat Bird

    fair and square and is the fastest driver in the

    Super Nova car in that test, hands down!

    And the only one faster then Marcus in the super

    Nova was Turvey that set a lap of 1m47.960s, but

    the lap was actually set when Turvey cut the

    chicane so his best lap time day 2 was 1m48.645.

    Remeber that the times day 2 was generally about

    a second quicker than on Monday when Marcus set

    his lap time 🙂

    (borrowed some info from “mr bowe”)

    / Jonathan W

  4. sauber11 says:

    http://italiaracing.net/notizia.asp?id=30075&cat=4 James Jakes signed for Coloni

    About Supernova and Ericsson, ok, the team struggled for sure – everything points on that. But… Marcus himself was quite slow, he was very slow in gp2 asia and at least not faster than Kral in main series.

    I mean Josef, the guy who lost to Marcus in formula bmw, driving for second season while swede was a rockie. And now Kral destroyed Marcus in Abu Dhabi at last race, and whats funny when both was driving for Isport , where swede now signed.

    So with all respect to Marcus he stands no chance against Bird in 2011 – its gonna be tough season for him ( his favourite word according his last interview at autosport).

    • Jonathan W says:

      But in the other hand:

      The last driver, in the last test of 2010, trying to conquer Marcus’ time in the Super Nova car was Sam Bird. As you may remember Marcus’ best time from day 1 was 1:48.657s. If you compare the times of day 3′s afternoon session with the session where Marcus set his lap time the track was about 9 tenths quicker. Bird set his a lap of 1:48.239 day 3 and if you add 0.9 seconds to that and ask me, I would say that Marcus beat Bird fair and square and is the fastest driver in the Super Nova car in that test, hands down!
      And the only one faster then Marcus in the super Nova was Turvey that set a lap of 1m47.960s, but the lap was actually set when Turvey cut the chicane so his best lap time day 2 was 1m48.645. Remeber that the times day 2 was generally about a second quicker than on Monday when Marcus set his lap time

      / Jonathan W (with some borrowed info from ”mr bowe”)

  5. Ben says:

    To sauber11:

    I agree with you that Kral was more impressive than Ericsson in Abu Dhabi and that Ericsson was not that impressive in the (one!) race he did in GP2 Asia. I also agree that he uses the word “tough” more often than a 2009 F1 World Champion says “for sure”.
    However, I challenge your statement that Ericsson was “at least not faster than Kral in the Main series”.

    Evidence 1) If you look at the qualifying and races in the first four weekends they drove together before Kral’s injury (excluding DNFs) Ericsson beat Kral at four times whereas Kral beat Ericsson three times. Hence, Ericsson the lead “times ahead of team mate” statistic.

    Evidence 2) When Kral finished higher up in the result list he was only one or two places ahead of Ericsson (Race 2 at Monaco: Kral 8th, Ericsson 9th. Qualifying at Istanbul: Kral 17th, Ericsson 19th. Qualifying at Valencia: Kral 17th, Ericsson 19th). Ericsson on the other hand was only one place ahead of Kral at two occasions (Race 1 Barcelona: Ericsson 11th, Kral 12th. Race 1 Monaco: Ericsson 12th, Kral 13th) but also much further ahead at two occasions (Qualifying Barcelona: Ericsson 8th, Kral 18th. Qualifying Monaco: Ericsson 13th, Kral 20th). Hence, when Ericsson was ahead in the results sheet he was on average more ahead compared to Kral.

    Evidence 3) When Ericsson had DNFs Kral produced dire results indicating that had the DNF not occurred Ericsson would probably have been ahead of Kral (Ericsson had DNF at Race 2 Barcelona (Kral finished 19th), Race 1&2 Istanbul (Kral finished 16:th and 14:th)). On the other hand when Kral had DNF Ericsson produced good results (Kral had DNF at race 1&2 in Valencia (Ericsson finished 7th and 1st)) thus indicating that Kral would probably not have been able to challenge Ericsson at those races.

    Evidence 4) Ericsson had four results inside top-10 (Qualifying Barcelona, Race 2 Monaco, Race 1 & 2 Valencia). Kral had one place inside top-10 (Race 2 Monaco). Thus, Ericsson achieved “top results” more frequently than Kral.

    Altogether I believe that Ericsson had the upper hand on Kral during the main series until Kral got injured. By this I do not argue that Ericsson did a fantastic season – far from it. Nor do I believe he will have it easy in 2011 when he is up against Bird. It will be a tough (yes, I wrote it) season but hopefully both drivers will do very well as I consider both Ericsson and Bird (and Kral for that matter) to be excellent drivers.

  6. JohnD says:

    Nice analysis Ben, however even if I do not want t go into detail, the first obvious thing which makes me doubt about your analysis is, that you did not include the last race in the main series where despite the fact he was not driving half season and lying in bed with two broken vertebraes, Kral was higher in qualifying and also both races and did two top ten finishes.
    To me it looks that your analysis is skewed by purpose adding only four from five weekends for comparison.
    When I would take all races they did together in the Main your results would change.
    Also when you look at the pre season testing Kral was higher and last day of Abu Dhabi testing where they were running alongside eachother in the Isport car Kral finsihed 2nd and 3rd and Marcus 6th and 11th….

  7. Ben says:

    JohnD – you are correct that adding the last race would change the analysis. However, my purpose was to look at the comparison between the two drivers during the part of the season when they had similar setting (in terms of preparation, motivation etc). They came to the last race from two very different angles. Ericsson had a full season of experience but also probably lack of motivation after dragging the car around circuit after circuit collecting DNFs and non-point scoring positions whereas Kral had it worse in terms of physical condition and experience but probably much better in terms of motivation. If that makes their respective performances in Abu Dhabi more or less impressive I can not judge. My point is simply that from the start of the season until Kral’s accident they were standing on comparable grounds, whereas they came into the Abu Dhabi race from two different worlds. Therefore I think the Abu Dhabi race should be judged as a stand-alone and if you look at my comment I explicitly stated that Kral was better than Ericsson in Abu Dhabi so I was not trying to hide that.

    I guess any way you look at it, this will always be a subjective judgement call. Either way it will be interesting to see how they will do this year in more competitive (hopefully) machinery.

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