Q&A with Force Indias Paul di Resta 09 Feb 2012
Force India were one of the surprises of last season and their sixth place in the 2011 standings has given them an appetite for more. Can their revised driver line-up of Paul di Resta and Nico Hulkenberg - both with only a season of F1 competition behind them - satisfy the cravings? Di Resta certainly thinks so and the first impressions of Force Indias new VJM05 appear to back him up. The Scot speaks exclusively to Formula1.com...
Q: Paul, at the end of last season Force India had a real boost. Do you get the feeling that the team has been able to carry that momentum into the 2012 season?
Paul di Resta: I certainly hope so. The buzz in the team from what weve achieved last year is still high and I think that is reflected in the car design of the VJM05. So far we must be very happy with what we have achieved, but of course this is not a sport that stands still. We have to keep moving and hopefully this moving will bring us to where our ambitions are: to move forward in the constructors championship. To do that we have to overtake a world championship-winning team - and that indeed is a big task. But believe me, we all will give it our best shot.
Q: It is logical that after finishing sixth last season your team boss Vijay Mallya is now focusing on P5. But whos going to move over?
PdR: Thats the tricky question, indeed. It is a hard task, but I think weve come so far that with all the talents the team has shown last season we have to focus on that. We punched a bit above our weight in 2011, so we know how to do it - and lets get even better at doing it this year! (laughs) There is no reason why we shouldnt be able to do it again.
Q: You have done two full days in the new car this week - and witnessed the other cars on track. From what youve seen, do you think you could indeed punch above your weight again in 2012?
PdR: I think what first and foremost should give us hope is the stability that we have within the team in terms of our design department, our engine partner and our partnership with McLaren. This is more important than what other teams might or might not have done in the last few days. We changed our philosophy in aerodynamics last year - and how we work as a team - and you saw the benefits in the middle of last year. The VJM05 is not just an evolution of last years car - there are some pretty big new parts there based on our new philosophy and we are very confident that it will deliver.
Q: So the only change is that you have a new team mate in Nico Hulkenberg - which means that Force India are going into the season with two drivers in only their second year of F1 competition. Will that work?
PdR: Yes, why not? I think this looks like a very exciting driver line-up. Nico gained high respect when he was driving for Williams and the (Force India) board took the decision to trust us not to disappoint them. And in fact we work very closely together.
Q: Adrian Sutil had been with the team - and in Formula One for five years - so he was the old hand. Now with two drivers only just out of their rookie seasons the competition will be different, as you both have to earn your spurs
PdR: There is always competition between team mates, but that is what pushes you on and pushes the team to reach new goals. And maybe that is what was needed. Adrian had been with the team for five years, so maybe they wanted something different. Well, thats not for me to say as I was purely focusing on securing my drive - and Ive done that and now will do my utmost to make sure I drive to my best potential.
Q: To have a realistic shot at P5 in the constructors championship both drivers have to deliver. Youve seen Nico drive on some Fridays and you have seen him in the factory going about things, so is he a man who can deliver?
PdR: Yes, of course.
Q: So lets speak about the potential of the car. You clocked the second-best time on day one, so does this indicate that the VJM05 is made of the right stuff?
PdR: Ah, you never know what the others did and being here its all about gathering data, which weve done. [The next test in] Barcelona will give us a bit of an idea of where we are. I just can say that I am very confident with the procedures weve gone through at the moment.
Q: Team tester Jules Bianchi spun the car on Thursday morning with some damage. What does that mean for your test programme?
PdR: Unfortunately it happened, but thats racing. Sure, weve missed a bit of running, but as the car has done a lot of laps over the last two days we should have enough data to work on.
Q: You said the VJM05 is not just an evolution but pretty much a new machine. Can you tell us the most significant differences?
PdR: Well, the front nose is different, the exhausts are pointing in a different direction, the colour code is different and it has black tyres (laughs) Thats all I can tell you - the other things are hush hush, top secret! (laughs)
Q: There are three test sessions planned before Melbourne. Can you talk us through each and every test - and what your programme will be?
PdR: Jerez is mainly for gathering data for correlation from the wind tunnel to the design department to enable updates to come through in the right way. Barcelona test one will be about balance mainly and the last test in Barcelona before everything is shipped down under will be about driver and team preparation - having the whole team there and running race simulations and hopefully by then understanding the car fully ahead of the first Grand Prix.
Q: Given where you are now, where do you want to be at the end of the season?
PdR: At the top!
Q: If everybodys wish comes true it will be pretty crowded up there
PdR: Well, you have to go into a season thinking that. If you start to settle for less your ambitions are probably not big enough. You cannot settle for second all the time. You need to be positive - create positive energy and prepare yourself to be able to achieve it.
Q: So now we know your dream, what do you think the reality of 2012 will be?
PdR: Well, you have seen that some people here have achieved tremendous things over the winter and I have a very open mind for this year.
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