- Sam Bird's ESPNF1 column
A strong end to a frustrating yearSam Bird September 19, 2011
The GP2 Series came to and end at Monza, and it was an OK weekend for me. We struggled a little bit with the car setup on Friday, like we have done for a couple of rounds now, and unfortunately only qualified ninth. I felt that was the best I could do and my team-mate was down in 15th so we obviously were struggling a little bit. I pushed as hard as I possibly could again in the races. I couldn't have given any more and I was pleased with the way I drove for the two fourth places.
I started the second race in fifth on the reverse grid and I think all five of us at the front were all doing the same lap times and none of us were making any mistakes therefore it was impossible for anyone to overtake. Luca Filippi was head and shoulders above anybody else all weekend, but when he cruised up to me at the back of the group he still couldn't make any impression.
Of course, we don't have KERS or DRS, and it's just been announced that that's the way it is going to stay in GP2 next year. I think both have been a huge success in Formula One, they've added something quite unique and quite special to the sport and I'm a big fan of them. However, GP2 makes for some great racing as well, and it is natural racing. There are no "artificial" aids we can use, you've got to make the tyres last as long as possible but you still have to push hard enough to stay ahead of you rivals. This means that you have to be quick but you also have to be mentally switched on and tactically aware.
I think it was important to finish the season with a good, consistent weekend in Monza. It was important to show that we could still bag some decent results because we have had a rather disappointing middle of the year. It shows that if I'd obtained the result that I should have in Monaco (where an overheating clutch compounded by a slow forming grid probably cost me the win from pole) then I would have come second in the championship. It's all "ifs and buts", but there were several of those for me this year even though we didn't quite have the pace in the middle of the year. Clearly, this isn't where I wanted to finish this year, although admittedly it was very close between second and sixth.
I came in to the season wanting to win the championship and anything less than that was going to be disappointing. Romain Grosjean did a stunning job this year and deserved to win the title, he was the most consistent, but then any of the next five of us could have been runner-up or third, fourth, fifth or sixth.
Now that the GP2 season has finished I'm going to continue to work with Mercedes - I've been working with them all week since Monza - and I fly to Singapore with them on Tuesday. Then I'll get ready to go to Abu Dhabi for the Young Driver Test.
In the meantime, we've had some appealing offers for me to test different teams at the forthcoming GP2 tests in Jerez and we might take some of those up. That doesn't mean I'll be back in GP2 next season, then again neither are we ruling that out, subject to how other plans develop.
It's too early to expand on what I will be doing next year. There are a few different possible scenarios. My managers and myself are weighing up and monitoring the various possibilities on a daily basis. What is certain is that the future looks busy... and the future looks bright.
Sam Bird writes for ESPNF1 after every GP2 weekend