Sam Bird enjoyed his best result of the F3 Euroseries season to date at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona thanks to a dominant display throughout the weekend.
The performance culminated in a second place finish in the feature race, but contained so much more, and overshadowed a disappointing second outing later in the weekend.
The BP Ultimate driver showed superb pace from the very first practice session and, in qualifying, held pole position for much of the half-hour. Unfortunately, however, two crucial laps towards the end were baulked by slower competitors, and he dropped won the order, having to settle for sixth on the grid.
Undaunted, however, the Briton was confident that his pace and racecraft would move him back up the order, and so it proved, with quick gains eventually translating into the podium finish.
“I made a reasonably good start, kept it tidy around the inside of turn one, and reacted quickly to a crash in front of me, enabling me to get up into fourth place," Bird recalled, "I then made up a further place for third, just behind [Nico] Hulkenberg.
"I felt I had the pace to overtake him, but just couldn't make my two moves stick without compromising both our races. However, we both pressured the leading driver into a mistake, capitalising when he went wide, and leaving me in second place, which I controlled to the chequered flag. I'm really pleased to be back on the podium, as we've worked very hard for this, but I'm aiming for a few more in the closing stages of the season.”
Bird's second place jumped him five places up the championship order, but Sunday's race proved to be a rather different, and ultimately frustrating, story.
Starting from seventh on the reversed grid, Bird was again confident that he could make up ground on the Spanish Grand Prix circuit, and made another excellent start to be challenging for fourth place at the first corner. However, when race one winner Hulkenberg locked up and ran into the back of the Manor machine, it was sent into a spin that Bird did well to recover from, albeit at the back of the pack.
Then, to make matters worse, when Kodai Tsukakoshi and Franky Cheng crashed into each other, Bird had nowhere to go but off the track and onto the grass. Again, he kept it together and managed to rejoin, but was back to 18th and his smooth style and obvious pace could do no more that take him to the flag without further incident.