Exclusive Q&A: Mercedes test driver Sam Bird on his fourth GP2 win of the season
British driver hoping performances in support series have proven he is ready to step up for Formula 1 in 2014
By William Esler. Last Updated: September 17, 2013 1:36pm
Sam Bird took his fourth GP2 win of the season with a dominant display at Spa-Francorchamps, and Sky Sports F1 Online caught up with the Mercedes test driver between his simulator sessions at the Formula 1 team's factory.
You've just stepped off the simulator at Mercedes. Can you tell us what you have been doing today?
Sam Bird: "Basically before every single round we like to go through the steps of making sure that every stone is unturned for the next grand prix. So today basically today I have been driving Monza and doing bits and bobs for the team and it will be more this afternoon."
Looking at your other job in GP2 then. A fourth win of the season - that is more than any other driver - and it looked very comfortable for you in the Feature Race.
SB: "It was really good. I felt the car was behaving itself, it felt very good, RUSSIAN TIME did a very, very good job in setting the car up as well as it has been all season. As for me, I feel like I am driving at the moment at the best of my ability and when we mix those two things together, the result can potentially be many wins."
However, your season does seem to have a lot of peaks and troughs. A miss-firing engine derailed you in the Sprint Race.
SB: "Yeah, that was disappointing, however, we took 29 points away from Friday and Saturday - four points for pole and 25 for the Feature Race win - so all in all, it was the top points total of the weekend."
How difficult would that race have been anyway as you, like most, had opted to run prime, prime on Saturday.
SB: "If you look at where Fabio Leimer ended up, I think he was fifth, then I think a top five finish could have been on the cards.
"These things do happen in motorsport, cars do sometimes have unreliability issues and unfortunately that hit on me on Sunday. But to score 29 points is still very strong and I think I am averaging around 15 points a weekend at the moment, so it was away above average. If we can continue to score around 30 points per weekend, then we are going to be there or thereabouts come the second race in Abu Dhabi."
Stefano Coletti failed to score a point once again, but still leads the Championship. You are 14 points behind with six race remaining - are you confident of overtaking him?
SB: "Absolutely! I don't see any reason why not. I think we have a little bit of momentum behind us at the moment and I think that the other teams know that as well.
"Our pace at Spa was very, very strong, we are coming up to tracks that I like in Abu Dhabi and Monza - ok I haven't been to Singapore, but for sure I will be getting some simulator time here at Mercedes prior to that event.
"Monza - my worst ever finish there is fourth with no DNFs so I have only won or finished second, third or fourth. Abu Dhabi - my first ever GP2 race I qualified on the front row in my first ever GP2 race - so these are two good tracks for me to end the year."
We are getting to the stage of the season where teams are starting to put together their 2014 line-ups - any possibility we could see you in F1 next year?
SB: "I would like to think now that I have done enough to prove that I am capable. I have won the most races of anyone so far in GP2 - I certainly feel that I am ready and I feel that I have done enough now to prove that if I was put into a race seat I could do a good job for a race team.
"I think it is clear now that in Formula 1, you need to take money - most, if not all people now need to take some form of sponsorship to a team - and I think that my performances so far this year have shown I warrant the chance, but I still need help and that final push to get into Formula 1.
"Maybe I wouldn't need to take as much sponsorship as some people because of my performances, but that is still on-going work to try and secure a seat for next year. It is still the dream for me to be a Formula 1 driver and it is just that last little push now that I need to try and secure the seat."