• Sam Bird on 2010

'A good year that could have been a great one'

Sam Bird
November 22, 2010
Sam Bird was in Abu Dhabi for the final race of the GP2 Series and to take part in the young driver F1 test © Sutton Images
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Funnily enough, it seems like the season has not yet ended as I'm still in Abu Dhabi a week after the GP2 finale due to the young driver F1 test and the forthcoming GP2 tests. I've barely had time to sit back and reflect on my year so here goes...

Starting with the final GP2 weekend, qualifying was quite disappointing because I felt we didn't quite have the speed to compete right at the front of the grid and then we got hampered with a penalty as well so I started down in 18th position, which wasn't the best. But I kept a positive outlook and the guys did a great job in setting up the car very well for race conditions and I was able to race through the field to third, so that was pretty good. Sunday was less pleasing, let's put it that way [Sergio Perez took Sam out trying to pass]. Unfortunately we ended the season on a bit of a sour note, but Sergio came up to me after the race and said that he was very sorry that he'd made this mistake that potentially cost me third in the championship. Nevertheless, I feel like I've had a good year. The speed has been there, I've won a feature race, had a pole as well as quite a few podiums and fastest laps so it's not the end of the world.

Perhaps fifth in the championship is not a fair reflection of the speed we've shown and we could have landed a lot higher up in the championship. I believe in the actual races we made very few mistakes that would cost you a race but for whatever reason there were quite a few times that I didn't finish or didn't even start races, so that was disappointing. I would say I've had a good year that could quite easily have been a great one, had it not been for all of those mishaps, but I've loved working with ART. They are extremely professional and they are great guys as well. Summing up the season in general, the big highlight was winning at Monza and getting pole at Hungary but the low point came the next day when the car conked out before I even got to the grid.

Sam Bird on track in the Mercedes © Getty Images
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Another highlight obviously came straight after the season ended with the young driver test in Abu Dhabi. I've had a relationship with Mercedes for a number of years because I drove Mercedes-powered cars in British Formula 3 and Formula 3 Euro Series and I'd like to thank Norbert Haug, Ross Brawn and everyone at Mercedes GP Petronas for the opportunity of driving their Formula One car for two days, it was a fantastic experience and I learned an awful lot. We worked together and improved together, which was great.

The difference between a Formula One car and a GP2 is pretty big. For a start it's about ten seconds a lap quicker. The main difference for me is how phenomenal the brakes are. Okay, the acceleration is very good, as is the power but it's how it decelerates that is really amazing.

As far as the physical differences are concerned, I was pleased with how I held up. The main thing is the neck. You have to have a very strong neck in F1 as well as a strong left leg to hit the brake pedal very hard but in terms of arm strength, it's different to GP2 because there's power steering in a Formula One car. But I was well prepared and I felt quite comfortable physically.

So what now for me? We'll just have to wait and see. Stay tuned to ESPNF1 and when I have some news I'll let you know. All I can say is that I'm sure there are further exciting times ahead. To all you ESPNF1 readers that have followed my column throughout the season, thanks for your interest and support!

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