- Sam Bird
Bird's eye view of the step up to F1Sam Bird September 18, 2013
I've not driven the Singapore street circuit in real life so this week's column is going to be a little different and more about my battle for the title and what it's like for a young driver trying to make F1. I have had the chance to drive Singapore in virtual reality on the Mercedes simulator and it's the best preparation I can possibly get without actually driving the circuit, at Mercedes we have a good representation of what the circuit is and it looks as close to reality as possible. That obviously prepares me very well for Formula One and it gives me an idea of which corners follow which and a rough expectation of what to expect when I get there.
But in a GP2 car it will be different to a Formula One simulator. Minimum speeds will be different, braking points will be different, kerb usage may be different. Having said that the simulator is the only way that I can prepare so no complaints from me. I will just have to make good use of the thirty minute free practice session on Friday!
This weekend will be very important for the championship. I think we've been in the title frame pretty much since Monaco and the lowest we've been in the standings since the second round was fourth position. Now we are really within striking distance - there's just six points to the championship leader - and it's getting very exciting at the sharp end with just two rounds to go.
Nevertheless, I'm not actually feeling the pressure. I'll let the others do the worrying and I'll just continue to enjoy my driving. The main focus is to win the teams' championship for Russian Time and if that means I can win the drivers' championship by doing that then it's even better for the team. All my competitors are strong, they will all have their ups and downs and as long as we can have fewer downs I'm sure we can be in good shape. Fabio Leimer is leading the title race and that means he is the main man at the moment, although there are four races to go. But if I can come away from the last four races saying I scored as many points as was physically possible - barring elements out of my control - with the car that we've got, I believe I can walk away with the championship.
A lot of people have been asking me lately what my prospects are of an F1 drive for 2014. First and foremost, it's not really something I spend much time thinking about as my focus is 100% on getting the job done in GP2. When it comes to next year, I have complete faith in my management at CJ Motorsport who have been looking after me since I was a teenager. And I know that the best way for me to help them secure the best possible future for me is to continue doing well on track. That starts this Friday in Singapore.
But since the F1 question keeps coming up, I will take the opportunity of this column to answer it once and for all. I do believe that I have proven that I'm ready with my performances in GP2 and I now have extensive experience of working with Mercedes F1 on and off track. All I need now is for a team to give me a chance on the grid. One thing is to dream of racing in F1, the other is to know when you are ready. And I know I am ready to perform at the highest level and to help an F1 team meet their own objectives.
The reality of F1 nowadays is that young drivers don't get their foot in the door unless they can bring some sponsorship with them. My track record might help to bridge the financial gap so I won't need to bring as much as the next guy. I would like to think that teams will see that my ability to perform has a true worth (financial and other) but I will still need to find something to get my first chance. On my way up the ladder I've been lucky enough to have some strong support from people that really believed in me, such as BP and Arrow Shipping. Now, one final push of support will get me to F1. Just that one final push...
Then it's up to me to show I can stay there and succeed long term.
Sam Bird writes for ESPNF1 after every World Series by Renault weekend