• Sam Bird's ESPNF1 column

That winning feeling

Sam Bird May 30, 2012
Bird won from pole position having also been fastest in practice © Renault
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Winning in Monaco is special!

We were quickest in practice and while that gives you confidence for the rest of the weekend it also adds a bit of pressure as well because people then expect you to go on and get pole position. We managed to do that, and I really enjoyed that qualifying; it was probably one of the best pole laps I've done.

The timing screens weren't working in the F1 pit lane for World Series by Renault so I had no idea what the gap was. I knew I was P1, but I didn't know by what margin. It could have been one tenth or it could have been one thousandth (Ed: it ended up being exactly one second). So after that lap I thought "right, I need one final push to put this out of of anyone else's reach" and I brushed the barrier at Sainte Devote. Having said that, on my pole lap I also flirted with the barriers on several occasions because that's what it takes to set a really fast time in Monaco. As I said in my previous column, if you get it right, the Michelin markings on your tyres should be almost rubbed off! It was a very good collective performance with my team and I enjoyed that lap.

Then when it came to the race, I found my car had an issue. I noticed it as soon as I began the green flag lap. I got on the radio immediately and said "chaps I think there's something wrong". The steering was about 20 degrees out to the right hand side and it didn't feel like the car was tracking properly in a straight line - which isn't particularly what you want in Monaco! But despite that problem, ISR had still given me a car that was capable of lapping reasonably fast. It made it slightly more tricky but I could still control the pace and do what was required.

That winning feeling, and top of the championship © Renault
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After my car had been scrutineered after qualifying, it was put back together and obviously something was not a hundred percent right. That's not the guys' fault it's just something that happens. The bottom line is that ISR produced a winning car!

When I stood on the podium I must admit I got a bit emotional. You try to play down the race in Monaco - as I did before the weekend - but obviously it's one of the great circuits to win on. I felt like I had some unfinished business going in to this weekend so it was a huge satisfaction to win.

While you don't really think about the fact that you're racing in front of the Formula One teams, I suppose the win is made even more special because I was fighting with fellow F1-affiliated drivers at the front; Jules Bianchi has his Ferrari and Force India links, while Alexander Rossi is with Caterham. Jules is not only a good friend of mine but a fantastic rival; I really enjoy racing against him and we have some great battles. We really push each other to the maximum and that's kind of what we were doing again in Monaco. It was really good fun. We were team-mates in 2010 and I think we have the highest respect for each other as drivers.

Being around the Mercedes AMG PETRONAS team was great this weekend too, everyone was very supportive. Michael gave me a big hug and all of the Mercedes guys gave me a pat on the back or a shake of the hand which was really nice from them, and obviously we had a relatively successful weekend as a Formula One team as well.

Thoughts already turn to another iconic track this weekend; Spa © Renault
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Saturday night I'd just taken pole, Michael had just taken his first pole (before his grid penalty) since his comeback and Nico was going to start on the front row so it was a great night. Then obviously Nico converted his front row start into second in the race which is fantastic for the team. Michael had a problem and his car couldn't finish the race but he drove very well. So I think it was a positive weekend for everybody within the Silver Arrows team.

After I stepped off the podium, somebody told me I was leading the World Series by Renault championship but I really haven't bothered looking at the championship order and I don't plan to for a while. I plan to just keep my head down and, together with my team, focus on improving our performance levels further. There is always room for improvement.

The page is now turned on the Monaco chapter and I'm looking ahead to Spa this coming weekend. I've also got some Mercedes duties this week before the Canadian GP in ten days. Monaco was great but we move on now.

Sam Bird writes for ESPNF1 after every World Series by Renault weekend

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Sam Bird writes for ESPNF1 after every World Series by Renault weekend Surrey-based Sam Bird made his name in Formula BMW before working his way through to GP2 where he raced for ART and iSport International. After a year fighting for the title in World Series by Renault he is now back in GP2 with RUSSIAN TIME alongside his duties as a Mercedes test driver