Di Resta Q&A: Force India must have a strong start 03 Feb 2012
With a new team mate in Nico Hulkenberg - and now, after its Friday launch, a new car - Force Indias Paul di Resta is targeting a successful 2012. And first on Di Restas agenda is to maintain the momentum which helped the team end last season so strongly. The Scot discusses the VJM05 and his hopes for the year ahead
Q: Firstly, did you enjoy a relaxing winter and have a chance to recharge your batteries?
Paul di Resta: I stopped working just before Christmas and that was it until January 13th, so I had a chance to spend some quality time with family and friends, and switch off for a little bit. I pushed on with my training and I was in a good routine and really enjoying it. It was nice and quiet in Monaco and the weather was fantastic, so it encouraged me to get outside and get active.
Q: You got a feel for the VJM05 when you had your seat fitting. What are your impressions?
PdR: Its looking quite good and the seat fit went very smoothly. The small issues I had last year were obviously considered in the design, which is what happens in your second year as part of a team - thats one of the things that becomes a bit easier. I wouldnt say the cockpit was tight last year, but I just couldnt get low enough in the car, where I wanted to be.
Q: What is the teams target with the new car?
PdR: The target is just to go forward really, from where we left off at the end of last year. Weve got to start a bit stronger than we did last year - that will be key. Weve also developed a lot of the things that we tried last year and now believe that its the way forward. Im not going to say what it is, but youll see it as soon as the car hits the track!
Q: Last year the team ensured that the car was competitive at all types of tracks, rather than just places like Spa and Monza. Will we see that again this year?
PdR: We actually struggled a bit in terms of straight-line speed compared to others. So there was definitely a change. If you look at Hungary, it was one of our best results: a very strong performance across the whole weekend. So its good to keep going down that route. You need downforce, but you need efficiency, and its a question of how finely you balance that.
Q: How much stronger do you feel personally heading into the season, compared with this time last year?
PdR: A lot stronger. Ive been training as hard as I ever have, really pushing on for the last few weeks. As I said, Im getting myself into that routine and just pushing the body to another level. For some reason my life is just a lot more stable - it just lets you concentrate on the bits you need to as and when they come in. The other benefit is that I now have a year under my belt. Whether its making decisions on travel arrangements or just analysing your time, you can really see what you didnt like last year and what affected you, and just put it right.
Q: The Pirelli tyres were new for everyone last year. Did you feel comfortable with them?
PdR: Its difficult to say because it was my first year, but it was not easy, because they were changing a lot and there was a big difference between them. At the same time everyone gets to run with the same tyres and its about making them work. It was all about doing it at the right point in the weekend, especially during qualifying.
Q: You have a new team mate in Nico Hulkenberg - are you looking forward to working with him?
PdR: Obviously Nico was already part of the team last year. Ive known him for a long time and Im sure we will work well together. At the same time you do have that bit of competitive nature, and you bounce off each other and push the team to take that little bit of an extra step.
Q: Its an unusual situation, because youve both done one season of racing, and one year of Friday FP1s - albeit not in the same order!
PdR: Were on equal territory. Hes probably done a bit more mileage than me in an F1 car, and he knows all the tracks, so theres not really any disadvantage for him. And he knows the team.
Q: You often shared a car with Hulkenberg on Fridays last year. Did you learn from that whether you have similar styles, and perhaps would like the new car to develop in the same direction?
PdR: The testing priorities were always different, and even between FP1 and FP2 the car would change - they would generally try new things with Nico when he was in the car just to get a bit of an idea, even if it was about future races. So I dont really know - I think that will develop over the winter.
Q: The competition in the middle of the pack is very strong. Do you agree that its not going to be easy to repeat last years form?
PdR: True, weve got a job in hand to maintain sixth. At the end of last year we punched way higher than I think we should have, and credit to the team for their ambition. I think everybody is still on a high from that and hopefully that will push us to another level again. But its going to take a lot of dedication to achieve that. We have to start off where we finished last year and keep pushing in that direction.
Q: Looking at the overall package can you see any reason why you cant do that?
PdR: Theres definitely no reason why we cant. Weve had good stability and we have the same technical staff, and the same partners: Mercedes-Benz for engine and KERS, and McLaren for gearbox and hydraulics. So everything is very stable and has carried on over. It almost feels like theres not been an end of the season and a beginning of the new one. Everybodys in the same state of mind.
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