Exclusive Q&A with Force India's Paul di Resta 08 Apr 2011
Not many drivers have clinched world championship points at their first Grand Prix, but after last month's Australian race Force India's Paul di Resta can count himself as one of the select few. Although he only inherited a single point for tenth place after the disqualification of the Sauber duo, the Melbourne result is an excellent start to Di Resta's Formula One career. The young Scot discusses his debut performance and the challenges of Sepang...
Q: Paul, how are you finding Sepang - hot?
Paul di Resta: Yes, the conditions are pretty demanding, and given the fact that all this is new to me, it went pretty well. I was able to run through all the programmes we had planned, so both sessions were productive. Ive realised that the tyres dont last as long as they did in Melbourne so a lot will depend on the strategy on Sunday. I think places can be won or lost in the pits this weekend.
Q: You havent raced here before. Do you think thats a disadvantage?
PdR: It is always a disadvantage to have less experience. Also, I have not driven this years car in the rain. The humidity and heat are difficult. It is going to be an intense race, but F1 is a challenge from the moment you sign the contract. You have to deal with each individual situation in a different way. Concerning the track, I was here last year and took part in practice and I have done a lot of simulator work ahead of the Grand Prix. The team has presented me with as much information as possible, and hopefully when I am on track I can put this to good use. We always do a circuit walk on Thursday morning. I also arrived in Malaysia quite early to make sure that I am in a good physical condition in this climate.
Q: Looking back to the Melbourne race, how did it feel to finally take part in a Grand Prix? Was it as you expected?
PdR: Definitely. Its been hard work to get me to where I am. The whole family has sacrificed to get me here. The Grand Prix was fantastic. I enjoyed it, although it was hard work given the speed we had, as we are not where we need to be. But that is part of it. You try to excel. Looking back at the race, I scored one championship point, which I think in your first Grand Prix is great. Also for the team to score three championship points puts us in a good place. Hopefully when we get more performance from the car we will be able to score more points per race.
Q: Was you heart beating faster than it did when you started DTM races?
PdR: In fact I was not quite as nervous, even though I had more to think about. You have the KERS system, and you have to carry out many more procedures in Formula One. So you dont get to think too much about being nervous. And before you know it, you are already off. That was the biggest thing, going through so many procedures with your engineer before the race start. You have to make sure that you remember every single one, as in the end they all make a difference. Looking back at the Grand Prix weekend, I tried to take it day by day, and step by step, and do the best possible job. I am sure I will be more nervous at other Grands Prix, when things start to come more naturally. In Melbourne things didnt feel that natural.
Q: Is the car promising?
PdR: It is a good basis to build on. We knew that the speed was not in the car. But, compared to where we were during testing, we did improve before heading to Melbourne. I am not sure if we gained much performance, but we were able to understand the car better, which was a big step forward. Our strength was reliability - finishing the race was key. Thankfully I made a very good start, which enabled me to battle with midfielders. And luckily we finished in a position where any small hiccup would get us points, and that is what we managed to do.
Q: You scored in Australia at the expense of the two Sauber guys, who were disqualified. Did that take away some of the satisfaction?
PdR: It doesnt matter how you scored the points - we scored them. We were in a position close enough to take them and eventually we did.
Q: How did the tyres, DRS (Drag Reduction System) and KERS perform for you?
PdR: We learned that the tyre degradation was not as high as we first thought. The Pirellis held up very well. The performance of both tyre compounds was okay. They did what they were supposed to do. In terms of the procedures that you have - the DRS and the KERS - were probably more difficult in qualifying, where you have to use both to their maximum potential. In terms of the race, the KERS was manageable for us. When it was active for us to use, we used the DRS without too many problems. It certainly increased overtaking, which in recent years has been difficult. I didnt benefit too much from it myself, but I saw Fernando (Alonso) use it on the second or third lap to pass Kobayashi. You can see the Grand Prix benefited from these new things.
Q: You are managed by Lewis Hamiltons father, Anthony. Is it strange that Hamilton has another manager and his father manages you?
PdR: It is strange, but I have been involved with Anthony for the last three years. When I first joined, he was still managing Lewis. Anthony is very professional at what he does. I am still very happy with the way it works, as he has been part of my journey over the last three years. He gives me as much advice as he can possibly give. I have known Anthony and Lewis since I was eight years-old in karting. So he has been a very good friend through the years. In the end they are family, and I am not competing against that. At the same time it is a professional business, and Anthony is looking after me.
Q: Are your expectations for your second race higher than for your first? Whats the goal for Sunday?
PdR: I would love to say they are. If I could come away with another point I would be delighted. Naturally it is going to be harder, as I am sure that everybody is going to do a better job than they did in the first race - myself included. I am going to have another race under my belt. But we are going to judge that on Sunday afternoon after the race. We will take it step-by-step. I do not want to run before I can walk. We have no new parts on the car. We have arrived here with what we had in Melbourne. We are looking to introduce new philosophies and upgrades for the European part of the season. Hopefully they will lead to a huge step forward in terms of performance.
For Formula One and F1 team merchandise, click here.