- Sam Bird's ESPNF1 column
There's no place like homeSam Bird August 28, 2012
- Sam Bird
Although I won on home soil at Silverstone it was a very difficult weekend. The two qualifying sessions didn't go according to plan and neither did race one, but we were able to win race two which was very good.
I qualified in 10th place in the first qualifying session on Saturday morning. We knew why though; I had an engine-change overnight and my new engine caught fire in the pit lane. The team managed to patch up the problem and send me back out with ninety seconds left on the clock. Snatching p10 was damage limitation and a pretty decent outcome under the circumstances.
In race one I got up to second place on slick tyres under the drizzle but there was a sudden downpour at Luffield corner and the top eight aquaplaned off! It was an impossible situation for those of us on slicks. When your wheels are no longer in contact with the track, because your tyres have no tread, you are literally floating on water. When this occurs, steering, braking or accelerating have no effect whatsoever. You are just a passenger and we all piled into the same spot, as if washed off the track by a lazy wave. The race was later red flagged for a spell but it was too late for me and a few others.
Qualifying two was actually on Saturday evening, which is very rare and because of the damage sustained in race one the team didn't have enough time to set the car up properly. They basically had to put the new corners on the car and send it out. Obviously it's very important in a single seater race car to get all the corner weights correct and really set it up on a flat patch perfectly before sending it out for any particular session, whether it be practice, qualifying or a race. But we didn't have time for that, so I just had to go and do a time in a car that was fairly compromised. I managed to qualify fifth even though the car was nowhere near perfect.
We made sure overnight that everything was spot on for the Sunday race. We took everything apart again and put it back together, put it on the patch and did it properly. It was just a case of there being quite a bit of damaged after the crash on Saturday and my team I.S.R did a very good job to actually get the car ready for qualifying. It looked like a very slow-speed crash but it actually did quite a bit of damage, which was a shame, but it didn't matter at the end of the day because we still managed to do the job on Sunday.
I must admit I had actually settled for second place towards the end of the race. You always want to win and push 100%, but I'd accepted I would probably finish behind Marco Sorensen because I had a very bad misfire from about halfway through the race. Fifth and sixth gear were both misfiring, so I was starting to fall back a little bit after pressurising Sorensen for the lead early on in the race. So I had pretty much settled for second and wanted to just nurse the car home but when I saw him slowing with a puncture on the penultimate lap I took that opportunity to snatch victory.
You have to feel sorry for Marco; He drove a great race and deserved a lot more than what he got. As drivers, we all know that you get bad luck at times, so when a slice of good fortune comes your way, you accept it gratefully. It was perhaps just reward for our persistence and belief in the face of adversity throughout the weekend.
After the race on Saturday I think we'd dropped to third in the championship and something like 27 points behind the leader. However, now we're back to only five points off the lead and it's all to play for still, so I think this will probably go down to the wire, which will be great fun for all the followers of World Series by Renault!
My second win of the season came at my home race and the atmosphere was fantastic. It's a great satisfaction to have won probably two of the biggest races of the year; Monaco and Silverstone.
Our next race is in Hungary, and we as a team at I.S.R can still improve. We are working as hard as we can - they're giving 100%, I'm giving 100% - but there are still some things that we need to do. I'm happy with everyone's application but I think we can still do better as a team. We have got a test coming up - our ECU testing time. The other teams have already completed theirs but because of my busy schedule we haven't been able to. Hopefully we can learn an awful lot from that and take those lessons to the Hungaroring.
I'm off to the Belgian Grand Prix tomorrow to resume my duties with MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS F1 Team. But I also have important duties to attend to before that as I'm the best man for my best friend Duncan Tappy. He's also a racing driver and he races a McLaren GT in the Blancpain Endurance Series for ART Grand Prix. He's getting married today (Tuesday) so I will be there of course and then fly to Spa on Wednesday. I'll be sure to pack my waterproof team jacket - it's not going to be just dry at Spa this weekend, it never is!