Q&A with Force Indias Paul di Resta 21 Jul 2011
His first home Grand Prix looked set to be a magic moment for Force India rookie Paul di Resta, starting the race from P6 on the grid. And up until lap 24 the future looked bright. Then a botched pit stop catapulted the young Scotsman down the order, destroying any hope of points. But thats in the past. Now Di Resta hopes that the momentum of that excellent qualifying, together with car upgrades will help him deliver his Silverstone promise at the Nurburgring this weekend, as he explained exclusively to Formula1.com
Q: Paul, can you re-cap the British Grand Prix for us. What was meant as your biggest triumph so far in Formula One came to nothing
Paul di Resta: Definitely I had a great qualifying session and we went into the Silverstone weekend with high hopes of improving the car. And I have to say that my lap in Q3 was very good, and up until lap 24 in the race everything was looking pretty good when suddenly there was some confusion in the pits with the tyres. It is hard to say something days after the incident, but definitely we analyze what has happened and it will teach us for the future to avoid such a mishap. Hopefully it will never happen again.
Q: How did it feel to sit in the car and see someone having to rush for your tyres? What was going through your head that very moment?
PdR: There is not really much that you can do if there are no tyres on your car. (laughs) I obviously saw the confusion quite early - obviously earlier than my mechanics had realized. But of course all that was not intentional - they had been instructed to do something that was wrong - and as I said we are taking steps for the future to stop something like that (happening again). It sure has woken us up a bit - to be a bit sharper at the next races and look that things run a bit smoother.
Q: When you say that you saw the disaster coming before the guys in the pits, what exactly did you see coming?
PdR: The guys are fully concentrated on the car-stop - changing the tyres and off it goes - and they really cannot determine which car is coming to the pits. So they were instructed about the tyre set and I could see that the call had come quite late. Then when I got to the pits I could see that the guys had just got there with the tyres - and unfortunately they were the wrong ones We dont want to think too much about it - we want to concentrate on doing better in the future.
Q: How was it to start the race from P6? Was it the first taste of hopefully something bigger to come?
PdR: It was quite something. It was the furthest (up the grid) I have ever started a Grand Prix in my career so far and it is really nice to start a race with only five cars in front. Our performance was really good at the beginning in the wet - I was matching Jenson Button - and in the dry we were where we were. Our performance isnt quite as high as others - our race pace has to improve - but we could have taken some good points out of the Silverstone race. But as hard to believe as it is, there were positives from the whole race.
Q: So what were those positives?
PdR: The performance of the car was good - especially in the wet. Now the biggest thing is to develop the car to hopefully show that our upgrades for this weekend will really work.
Q: You have constantly outperformed your team mate in qualifying - eight to one so far - and thats in your rookie season. Races show a different picture, with your two points against Adrian Sutils ten. Is that where experience comes into play?
PdR: I dont believe that experience is an issue. I have been quite unlucky on various occasions and I believe the results dont show the true level of performance. If some races had been slightly different I would have a pretty good standing in the championship, but it didnt happen. I am a great believer that things happen in life for a reason, so I continue on and hopefully the points could be a little bit more rewarding. Probably we need to be a bit sharper, to eliminate the mistakes I have made or the team has made, as both contributed to the end result.
Q: How would you sum up your F1 career so far? How satisfied are you with your learning curve - and that of the team?
PdR: There have been ups and downs. But I think it is in general difficult to judge in the first half (of the season). I must say that on a personal level I have enjoyed it, because I am there where I ever dreamed of being and I hope I can continue to build a reputation for the future.
Q: You are the reigning DTM champion, so you were pretty much used to the front row. How is it to start all over again from the midfield?
PdR: It is difficult, of course. Qualifying in sixth at Silverstone was a massive achievement in Formula One with Force India. With this result you couldnt be more delighted with how it turned out. If that had happened to me last year in DTM - qualifying in P6 - it would have been a very bad day for me. So it is a completely different approach. But as long as you are realistic about your ambitions and your competitiveness, then you can do a good job - but this time in the mid pack. There you get caught up a bit more and you are not relying on your own performance but also relying on different people being on different agendas, and you get caught in traffic so you have to look at many more different factors. It is definitely more risky when you are in the midfield. That goes for you in the car but also for the people at the pit wall - you have to take many more things into account than the guy in front who is doing his show. I have to get used to that situation again.
Q: Do you miss that leader of the pack feeling?
PdR: You definitely always miss it. You would always prefer to be at the very front than being anywhere else! (laughs) And hopefully I will one day be in this situation again - and other people wont. Only time will tell.
Q: What do you want to achieve this weekend? How likely is that you can make Q3? We seem to have similar track conditions to Silverstone, where the Force India performed excellently
PdR: I wouldnt like to predict too much, but we came here with an upgrade and hopefully that will be positive. We certainly hope that Silverstone will carry over - there is no reason it cant - but its the first time that I am driving on the Grand Prix track here so it very likely will be a hard weekend for me because I am missing FP1 [to make way for tester Nico Hulkenberg]
Q: You just said that performance at Silverstone was excellent in the wet, so are you hoping for more of the same here?
PdR: I am never hoping for any kind of weather, because that is completely out of my control. And we could also easily struggle in wet conditions - I am not sure. I just go with what comes.
Q: Your first Nurburgring outing on the Grand Prix track: how much will you miss those laps from FP1?
PdR: Its a big thing this weekend, as this is the first race where I havent driven the track and going straight to FP2 is a bit difficult. Hopefully Ill have enough confidence in FP2 and carry that into Saturday morning. We are quite ambitious about the practice programme as we want to learn as much as possible, so Friday is a big day. I have so far walked the track and been on the simulator with it, so I have done as much as I can outside the car. Now I have to bring that knowledge into the car.
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