GP2 Series frontrunner Sam Bird believes that he has shown enough potential during his junior career to consider himself a legitimate contender for an F1 seat.
The Briton, who received a late call-up to contest this year's GP2 Series with new team Russian Time, has rewarded that decision with four race wins – the most of any driver so far this season – and a surge towards the top of the points table with three double-header rounds remaining.
His ability behind the wheel has already been recognised by the Mercedes team, which regularly uses him for development work, but Bird believes that the time has come to take the final step and be on the grid.
"I would like to think now that I have done enough to prove that I am capable,” he told Sky Sports
, “I have won the most races of anyone so far in GP2, [and] 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.”
However, having been knocking on the door of the top flight for several seasons – 2013 is Bird's third crack at GP2, interspersed with a year in the World Series by Renault – the 26-year old is not blind to the fact that most F1 vacancies go to drivers able to bring a sponsorship budget.
"I think it is clear now that, in F1, you need to take money,” he confirmed, “Most, if not all, people now need to take some form of sponsorship to a team. 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 F1.
"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 an F1 driver and it is just that last little push now that I need to try and secure the seat."
As well as his off-track efforts, Bird – who made his F1 testing debut with Williams as long ago as 2007 - knows that the remaining three rounds of the GP2 Series could help make or break his chances of graduating to the top flight next season.
“I feel like I am driving at the best of my ability," he acknowledged, despite having been denied the chance to take part in last month's Young Driver test at Silverstone, “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, [and] we are coming up to tracks that I like in Abu Dhabi and Monza. Okay, I haven't been to Singapore, but I will be getting some simulator time here at Mercedes prior to that event.
"My worst ever finish [at Monza] is fourth with no DNFs, so I have only won or finished second, third or fourth. Abu Dhabi [was] my first ever GP2 race [and] I qualified on the front row, so these are two good tracks for me to end the year..."