- Sam Bird's ESPNF1 column
Storming through at SpaSam Bird June 7, 2012
- Sam Bird
After a quick turnaround from Monaco it was off to Spa for the latest round of World Series by Renault. I didn't mind not having much of a break as I felt in the groove after Monaco. Back to back race weekends give you little time to recover, but I actually felt quite fresh.
Spa has so much history to it and it's a really special place to go racing.
Friday was dry. I had a slight technical problem in first practice, again with my steering, which limited my track time. Despite that we were third quickest so we knew we were on the right track in terms of basic set-up. We then confirmed that in the second session and were quickest.
In first qualifying on Saturday, I was on pole for most of the session. I was reasonably happy with my fast lap but had to overtake two cars, which lost me a little time but that's just something you have to deal with. Everybody has a story. Kevin Magnussen put in a good lap at the end and pipped me. Fair play.
I had a good, close battle with Kevin during race one as we fought for the lead. I felt he was a little too forceful with some of his defensive moves which actually caused both of us to lose positions and I eventually finished third. It's another podium finish, which is all very well, but my reading of the first few laps of the race, in terms of where we were pace-wise compared to the cars around me, had lead me to expect more.
Second qualifying was wet and I lead the way for most of that but dropped to third in the final couple of minutes because I actually ran out of fuel on my last flying lap when the track was drying. That led to a penalty and I had to start from the back of the grid for race two - 26th place. My team were very upset with themselves for getting the fuel wrong but I tried to rally them round. We can all make a mistake. It's how you recover that matters. So my mindset ahead of the race was: "OK, it's happened now, it is what it is. It's a good opportunity to showcase some overtaking and let's see if we can get into the points.'
If I'm perfectly honest, starting from the back of the grid in such treacherous conditions and finishing fifth, only a couple of seconds behind third place, surpassed even my own pre-race expectations.
The conditions and visibility were so bad that you couldn't actually see in front of you. You pretty much had to look sideways to pinpoint your position on track, which is interesting at 150mph!
I pitted as soon as the pit window opened in order to try to get myself out of traffic and so I could put in some fast laps and try to overhaul people when they did their stops. That worked quite nicely.
The reason why we all do this sport is for the love of speed and overtaking, so I just got fully dialled in to the enjoyment factor of driving. I didn't really focus on where I was until about three laps from the end when I saw P5 on my pit board.
It was a good fun race but I'd be quite happy having no more of those this year. I'll settle for the "boring" races at the front!
I'm still not that interested in looking too closely at the championship table. Of course I know I'm leading and I'm aware that a third and fifth mean that I have scored some decent points. Consistency is key but there is still an awfully long way to go. The aim is to continue racking up points and we'll see where we end up. There are so many variables in motorsport and things don't always go your way. The important thing is to take your chances when they do and to salvage the best possible results when they don't. This weekend, things didn't really go our way, particularly in terms of the fuelling mistake and subsequent punishment. And yet we came away with some acceptable results. That's what matters.
I'm actually at the airport as I do this column, a few minutes before my flight to Canada, where I'm off to pick up my duties with the MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS F1 Team. I think Montreal will be a good circuit for us. It was an extremely exciting race last year - it'll be interesting to see what the weather conditions throw up this year there - but I'm really looking forward to this one. Go Michael and Nico!