• Sam Bird's GP2 column

That winning feeling

Sam Bird September 15, 2010
Sam Bird celebrates with his Monza trophy © Sutton Images
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Winning the feature race at Monza was a weight off my shoulders. I feel like I've had the speed to win all year, but this is the first weekend where I've had no problems and all three days ran very smoothly.

It was amazing to win at Monza and we did it in style with the fastest lap in both races and a podium in the second race, I couldn't have asked for much more. I feel like I could have got the pole position as well, but 16 points out of a possible 20 isn't bad.

The safety car periods made the feature race a bit more dramatic but on both occasions I managed to get a good restart and led comfortably into the first corner. I knew that if I could get through the first corner without any problems then I had the speed to pull away, and that's what I was able to do.

The team then did a great pit stop and it was relatively straight-forward from there on to take the victory by nine seconds. The team actually told me to slow down with about ten laps to go because there was no need to pump in the fast laps I was doing. So I just slowed it down a little bit and cruised home. It didn't cross my mind for a minute that something might go wrong, I was absolutely focused on the task at hand.

I would have liked to have won the sprint race as well, but if you'd told me I could have had third place on Sunday morning I would definitely have taken it. There was no way past Jerome d'Ambrosio in second place because he was defending quite aggressively, especially on the last lap. But it was great to be on the podium again and it means that I've raced at Monza twice, with two races each time, and I've never been off the podium there [Sam finished second and third at the circuit in British F3].

ART holds out Sam Bird's pit board © Sutton Images
I'm sorry to disappoint, but there were no wild parties afterwards. In fact I just flew home, had dinner with my girlfriend and went to bed - it was a demanding weekend all in all. And since Monday I've been training again, so I haven't really had time to celebrate. My focus is now on getting an even better result at Abu Dhabi and trying to grab third in the championship [Sam is currently fifth, one point behind Dani Clos in fourth and ten points behind team-mate Jules Bianchi in third].

But of course this result is very important on all sorts of levels. A lot of people in the paddock that I've talked to have been waiting for this and have been telling me that I've got the speed but just need some better luck. Now that I've got that all-important win, I think it should start the ball rolling and hopefully it will continue to roll.

Inevitably, with only one round of GP2 to go, people are already asking me what my plan is for next year. But my job is to focus on this year and make sure I carry the Monza momentum to Abu Dhabi. I do know that my managers are working on next year and are looking for sponsorship to get me back into GP2. It's a tough market out there and money is scarce but they're pushing as hard off the track as I am on it. To all you would-be sponsors out there, get in touch with CJ Motorsport Consulting!

Sam Bird will not be back in his car for another nine weeks © Sutton Images
Right now I've got a nine week gap to Abu Dhabi which seems crazy. In the meantime I will keep training because that's all I can really do, it's all about being in the best possible shape to perform as soon as I get back in the cockpit.

You're only as good as your last result in this sport, so at the moment I feel as if I'm the man to beat and I'm really looking forward to going to a race with that kind of mindset. I might get in a kart a couple of times between now and then, but only for fun.

It's a good race to look forward to because Abu Dhabi is a circuit I like and I was on the front row of the grid there at my first ever GP2 race in the Asia Series. So I know the track and I know we can be fast there, I just need to have another good qualifying session and go from there. To be honest, I wish I could be in the car right now.