Exclusive Q&A with Force Indias Paul di Resta 10 May 2012
A glance at the 2012 driver standings shows that in terms of points at least, just like Nico Rosberg at Mercedes, Paul di Resta is the man currently delivering for Force India. Fresh from his eight-point haul in Bahrain - but a less satisfactory Mugello test - Di Resta is looking to continue his upward trajectory in Barcelona this weekend
Q: Paul, how did those eight points from Bahrain go down?
Paul die Resta: Well, it was a huge boost for the team. It showed that we can deliver. After a rather difficult start into the weekend we all left the track on Sunday with happy faces. For me personally? It was great to see that I already finished in the best position that the team had in the whole of last season in only race four. That leaves a lot room for 2012! (laughs)
Q: How important was that result, given the fact that winter testing had suggested Force India could be a strong contender this season, only for you to have a rather bumpy start to the season?
PdR: It was great. We knew that the car wasnt performing the way that it should. It was a bit due to the fact that we didnt bring anything new for the last test and subsequently nothing substantial for the first race, only little bits and pieces. The focus then was to improve the car for the European season and basically focus on reliability. So under these circumstances it was fantastic to score so many points so far. We know now that we are on the right track and adding more upgrades will hopefully enable us to tie in with Bahrain - and maybe even better - if we do an excellent job.
Q: How did the Bahrain and Malaysia results come about? They were the second and the last of the four flyaway races, so there was little opportunity in between to make big changes to the car. So why Bahrain and Malaysia? Why not Australia and China?
PdR: Well, Malaysia was one of these races where anything could happen and we performed very well in those extreme conditions, so this result was a bit out of the normal. Thinking back to China, we were very close, but obviously not close enough. And in the race Maldonado hit me twice on the first lap and took some of the rear wing off, which meant the loss of a lot of downforce that probably amounted to three-tenths of a second a lap. If you put that to the overall distance we were always in the hunt, but never close enough. I think ten laps before the end of the race we were nine seconds behind second place. So we were close, but not close enough to make a difference. The grid is a very tight pack. That makes races so exciting this season - and makes it hard to really execute your pace if you are running into issues like I did in China.
Q: How satisfied are you with your own performance, given you are no longer a rookie? Are you happy with the way you have exploited your chances?
PdR: Of course I always want more. Given what I have achieved in Bahrain, yes. China was so so. Malaysia, again yes, and Australia, well it was a bit of an underperformance. But the speed simply was not there. So the overall picture is positive, but then again the aim is for more. (laughs) We are a midfield team and should we get a podium, for us it would probably be like winning the championship for Red Bull. That would maybe be the equivalent.
Q: Your team mate Nico Hulkenberg has looked a bit pale in comparison. Why are you on an upward curve and him less so?
PdR: That would be for Nico to answer. I try to be the best that I can be with the package that Ive got and the team behind me. We are now working the second year together and I hope that we can maximize that relationship even further. I want to drive the team forward - and drive myself forward. But I also dont want to hide it - I want to keep on beating my team mate.
Q: So does that mean you are the lead driver at Force India?
PdR: The teams policy is that there is no such thing as a lead driver. Equal opportunity and everybody seizing his chances (laughs)
Q: Last week saw the first in-season test in many years. What is your opinion on that? Was it helpful?
PdR: Obviously the weather interrupted the first day and we had a bit of an issue with the car on the second day, so we didnt get much running. In fact, we only had one full day and from what we did Im not so sure how much you can carry over. We concentrated on our programme and disregarded other people and collected the data we were looking for. Whether what weve brought from there is good enough, we will see this weekend. I think in the end we have gathered enough information to integrate the updates successfully.
Q: How big are these upgrades - and what are they supposed to do?
PdR: This we will see on Saturday. But again it is something thats hard to verify as we have never been to Mugello before and I would say that Mugello probably didnt give us the right impression of what we plan to bring.
Q: Some say that Mugello was the wrong choice. The track has little in common with modern F1 circuit layouts, there was no benchmark data as you would have had for Jerez or Valencia, and some even said the track is dangerous. What is your stance?
PdR: It is a nice track to drive for a driver, but I am also not so sure about what we really learned there. It is difficult to read much into things when youve been there for the first time.
Q: How will this weekend unfold for you? In the Australia/China vein, or more like Malaysia/Bahrain?
PdR: The hope certainly is to carry on where we left off in Bahrain. I think it is realistic because Bahrain was a straightforward result. There were no special circumstances or tricky conditions that leaped us to P6 - it was our strength that took us there. Now for this weekend lets see how we are able to maximize the car again - and why we should we be able to have a Bahrain deja-vu here in Barcelona.
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