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Pre-Silverstone analysis - the drivers bidding for home glory 28 Jun 2013

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1.
Formula One World Championship, Rd8, British Grand Prix, Preparations, Silverstone, England, Thursday, 27 June 2013 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W04.
Formula One World Championship, Rd7, Canadian Grand Prix, Race Day, Montreal, Canada, Sunday, 9 June 2013 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1.
Formula One World Championship, Rd8, British Grand Prix, Preparations, Silverstone, England, Thursday, 27 June 2013 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1.
Formula One World Championship, Rd8, British Grand Prix, Preparations, Silverstone, England, Thursday, 27 June 2013 Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd8, British Grand Prix, Preparations, Silverstone, England, Thursday, 27 June 2013 Paul di Resta (GBR) Force India F1 on the drivers parade.
Formula One World Championship, Rd7, Canadian Grand Prix, Race Day, Montreal, Canada, Sunday, 9 June 2013 Paul di Resta (GBR) Force India VJM06.
Formula One World Championship, Rd7, Canadian Grand Prix, Race Day, Montreal, Canada, Sunday, 9 June 2013 Max Chilton (GBR) Marussia F1 Team in the Press Conference.
Formula One World Championship, Rd8, British Grand Prix, Preparations, Silverstone, England, Thursday, 27 June 2013

Rain or shine, the British Grand Prix is always a very special event for British drivers, and as the fans dream of victories for Lewis Hamilton or Jenson Button, Paul di Resta is quietly determined to stage his best performance yet in an F1 car.

“I think it’s incredible what they’ve been able to do,” Hamilton says of Mercedes’ progress. “Watching my car evolve over time, over the last few years, just to see how much improvement you can make over a winter. To see what they’ve done is pretty impressive. They’ve done an incredible job but it’s because they’ve got a great group of guys. They’ve got some very intelligent people coming up with great ideas and new innovations. It’s a team to be reckoned with.

“But I’m not really expecting us to have an easy weekend. I don’t think we’ve really made a huge step since Barcelona. The last couple of races have been a little bit easier on the tyres so we’ve definitely made a small improvement but I don’t know whether it’s going to be good enough this weekend to come out ahead of the Red Bulls and the Ferraris, but time will tell. We definitely have some components that we’ve developed since Barcelona to help with the tyres, so I’m hoping that they will help this weekend.”

Speaking of the result of the recent FIA International Tribunal which investigated Mercedes’ secret tyre test at Barcelona just before Monaco, he added: “So far everyone still seems to be speaking to us. I feel that it’s one of those experiences that we’ve gone through that if anything it’s made us stronger. It’s been quite encouraging to see how the team has pulled together and how they’ve turned a negative into a positive and now moving forward and hungrier than ever to win, so that’s encouraging for me, that brings me great energy to come here with and hoping that we can get some good results moving forward.

“After Canada we’re even further behind Sebastian and it’s quite a big deficit, so to catch that up is going to be very difficult, especially with the pace that they have, But we’re not giving up, we’re going to keep pushing and we’ll just push as hard as we can until the last race and the last opportunity we have. But I feel positive, we’re there or thereabouts and we’re trying to make improvements. Those guys are extremely quick, Ferrari and Red Bull, but it’s not impossible to catch them.”

Button, meanwhile, has never been on the podium in his home race.

“I’m sure there’s more to it than just being unlucky,” says the McLaren driver. “I’ve still had some really good races here. My first year in Formula One, my British Grand Prix, I finished fifth, overtaking Michael [Schumacher] at Turn One and finished with nine cylinders, so it was a great weekend, with DC [David Coulthard] winning. They are very passionate fans here so it was a great celebration.

“But being on the podium here is something I would love to achieve. It’s going to be very difficult this year but we’ll see. We’ll fight as hard as we can and get the best out of the car hopefully. And that’s all we can do this weekend: we know we’re not quick enough but you want to repay the fans for all their support. They’re not just fans in the good times, they’re fans in the tough times as well. That’s really nice to see. Hopefully we’ll have a full house of Union Jacks here and I promise we’ll do the best we can.

“I think everyone knows, when you watch on TV, our car does certain things a Formula One car shouldn’t really be doing. I think our ride is an area we need to improve and an area we are improving. So, with a circuit like Silverstone, it is reasonably bumpy. It’s not quite like Canada, and I think our car does suit circuits like Barcelona, like China, Malaysia. So, hopefully the flow of this circuit will help us - but still that’s not enough. We’re pushing flat out to make sure we do improve - but it’s an area of the car that’s also very difficult to improve. But we’re trying very hard.”

Di Resta comes off two very difficult qualifying sessions in Monaco and Canada where, for reasons not of his making, he lined up 17th on the grid, but he drove strongly in each race to score good points. Now he’s looking for a smooth practice and qualifying to enable him to start where he should for Force India. Based literally across the road from the track, they have been arguably the most consistent team of the season and are ready to break through.

“Canada was obviously an excellent result. I think everybody raised their game for Sunday and what we achieved was quite remarkable. This weekend, three more straightforward days I think will definitely be on the cards. I want to build upon that, to move forward and to finish in the points. We’ve managed to score on six occasions this year, the other one, where we didn’t score was a DNF. If we can keep that up, and equally try and battle with McLaren, hopefully be in front of them, it makes a big difference to a team like us that’s battling in the midfield most of the year.

“Qualifying in Canada was very difficult. I think the whole team felt the pain of that but we’ll look to gather some data, starting on the tyres tomorrow. Our car seems to be working well in all circumstances this year. It seems very consistent. I think this is a track where tyres are going to be a question. We’re normally on the healthier side of tyre wear and really the focus should be on qualifying because that’s the big result of the weekend, and then transfer that into the race where we know we’ve got a strong package to gain some positions from. But it’s a long way away and a lot of work to do in front of hopefully some great British support.”

At Marussia, rookie Max Chilton will be enjoying his first experience of fan power.

“It’s an extremely exciting moment,” he admits. “To be racing in Formula One is amazing. In Australia, that Grand Prix was very special but this is the one I’ve been waiting for. To be in front of the home crowd, all the Union Jacks around the circuit. It’s going to be a moment not to forget. The main thing is to keep doing what you always do, not do anything different and just try to do the best that you can do.”

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