Luca Filippi's already had a memorable 2011, storming back in the second half of the season to take the runners-up spot in the GP2 championship behind Romain Grosjean. But his year is not over yet, and this weekend he has a chance of taking a title of his own as Auto GP arrives at Mugello for its final race of the season.

"Some could think that after ending the GP2 season on such an high note I could be lacking motivation, but it's a completely wrong assumption," insisted Filippi heading into the Mugello weekend. "I really want this title and I will race as hard as I can to clinch it."

Filippi is in third place for Super Nova Racing in the Auto GP championship with 101pts, 15pts adrift of current leader Kevin Ceccon. Ironically it was Ceccon's decision to step aside from the GP2 race seat at Scuderia Coloni mid-season to concentrate on his Auto GP bid that opened up the spot that Filippi seized with both hands and rode all the way to the GP2 'vice-championship'.

In doing so, Filippi had to make a critical choice when the GP2 weekend in Hungary clashed with the AutoGP event in Oschersleben, Germany: even though he was ahead in the AutoGP championship at the time, Filippi opted for GP2 - and despite a relatively poor event by his late-season standards, the 4pts he picked up there ended up making the difference between second and fourth place in the final standings.

On the flipside, Ombra Racing's Ceccon won 20pts that weekend at Oschersleben, contributing to the lead he now has over Filippi. Even though up to 26pts are available from race 1 and 18 from race 2, that could still be simply too much of an edge to overturn in a single race weekend.

"I can't afford any strategy, really. The Auto GP points system still gives me a chance, but in order to make it I must win Race 1, there's no other way to make it," admitted Filippi. "And still it might not be enough, because a 15pts gap is a lot. The first aim will be a front row qualifying, and then winning the first race. If I manage to do this, my job for Race 2 will be boasting a good recovery to get other good points.

"If you look at Ceccon's season, he was never the best on raw speed, but had an incredible consistency, with many podiums and point finishes. If he manages to get another weekend in his style, he will win the title, no matter what I do," added Filippi. "The starts have been one of his flaws this season, and this could get him in trouble, so you never know."

It's not just Ceccon that Filippi is squaring off against, of course. Russian driver Sergei Afanasiev is currently in second place on 109pts in the Dams car and could be the dark horse to clinch it from both the Italians, having notched up three race wins and a pole position in 2011.

"Afanasiev ... is the driver who improved the most during the season, and now he seems to be the quickest guy out there," agreed Filippi. "He doesn't have a lot of experience in Mugello and this could be an advantage for me, but I can't count on this."

Although eight drivers are still in with a mathematical chance of winning the championship, only these three - Ceccon, Afanasiev and Filippi - have topped 100pts. Adrien Tambay is back in fourth on 84pts, but that doesn't mean that he and the others won't be factors in deciding the title, one way or another.

"The more drivers can 'steal' points from my rivals, the better for me," said Filippi. "In this perspective, I think that the Lazarus pair [Fabrizio Crestani
and Fabio Onidi] - and Crestani in particular - could be the ones to watch. They're often quick, and they will push for a great result in their home race".

Filippi insists that his success in GP2 has been "a great morale boost" and given him tremendous confidence going into the weekend at Mugello. He had to come from nowhere to pull off the GP2 runners-up spot and reckons that experience puts him in good stead this weekend: "I am the outsider, I have nothing to worry about, I just need to push like hell!"

Meanwhile Filippi has been back in the GP2/11 car in testing at Jerez - ironically, sharing the Coloni car with Kevin Ceccon again. It's clear that Filippi feels a very strong connection with the team and the GP2 championship as a whole, and that what had begun as a mid-season marriage of convenience now seems a great deal more on both sides.

"Knowing that, with Scuderia Coloni I'm part of a long term project gives me a great feeling," he explained. "You know sometimes you race with a team and, even if performances are good, at the end of the season it's just 'bye bye'? With them it's different, we have a project together, it's a new feeling and I like it."

Obviously Filippi is coming out of 2011 on an all-time high - but clinching the Auto GP title on Sunday would certainly be the icing on the cake.