Paul di Resta Q&A: Driver experience an asset to Force India 14 Mar 2013
This weekend sees Force Indias Paul di Resta resume his 2011 partnership with team mate Adrian Sutil. The team finished 2012 on a high and the signs from winter testing were good. On top of that, Force India have something neither of their key rivals Sauber and Williams can claim - two experienced race drivers. Its something Di Resta is convinced will serve them well as he contemplates the season ahead
Q: Paul, you were pretty critical of yourself at the end of last season. What didnt you like of your 2012 season and yourself - and how are you going to change that?
Paul di Resta: I wouldnt call it so much self-critical, but there sure were points in the season where we - for whatever reasons - couldnt get the performance that we were looking for and had a bit of a struggle. There have been moments when we had a real fast car, but were unlucky and couldnt transform that pace into results. Actually I would say that we had many highs, so our plan for this season is to build it more constructively and with more consistency. If we are getting the car into the operating window - like, for example, as we achieved in Singapore and Monza (last year) - then we very likely will achieve a better position in the constructors standings.
Q: but havent you pointed out that your interaction with the media has to change a bit - that a more easy-going approach would help you and the team
PdR: Yes, probably. But relationships actually do grow over time, so I think it is also something about being in the paddock long enough to get a reputation and have peoples confidence and take things and comments the right way. I think it has been a good winter to look at all possible aspects of change.
Q: What has already changed?
PdR: Ha, I am another year older and probably have more grey hair. To be honest, with another year under my belt - I am heading now into my third season - I feel much more comfortable and feel much more in a position to dedicate more time to areas I want to dedicate it to and not being overrun by circumstances. You can plan your life much better and know much better how to get the most out of your abilities. We had a constructive winter - I have been working very hard with the team over the last couple of weeks. True, its been funny to be the only driver in the team, but honestly it hasnt hampered my preparations in any way whatsoever. Actually it was pretty funny.
Q: It must have been a rather odd feeling to be the only driver standing up there at the teams car launch. How was that?
PdR: Well, the question of the second driver was a decision that was made by the board so had nothing to do with me. I had to focus on myself, to build an even stronger relationship with the team and essentially do all the simulator work.
Q: Your new team mate is your old team mate of 2011, Adrian Sutil. How is that going?
PdR: Actually it is very strange for that to happen. You have probably never thought something like this could happen. Fact is it was very sad not to see Adrian racing last year because he definitely deserves a seat. His experience will make the transition of his comeback very quick - actually hes got more F1 experience than I have - so I expect us to work very well together and push each other to get the best for the team. I think we had a good balance in 2011 and with my additional experience we should have a competitive year ahead and push the team to new boundaries.
Q: Did it irritate you, not knowing until the very last minute who your team mate would be?
PdR: I didnt waste any thoughts on that because I knew the names that were in the game. I think it was more a hustle for the team to have everything ready - from important things like the car to banal things like autograph cards. I was flexible on the test days to make sure that the team had enough time to make the right decision on the other guy. The most important thing for me was that the tests went well and we didnt face any disturbing issues.
Q: The car was on quite a high at the end of 2012. From your test experience, has the team kept up the momentum?
PdR: I certainly hope so. Essentially we have struggled in the first part of the year for the last two seasons. That is no secret. But this car is an evolution, so we should be in good shape as our strength was to develop our car over the course of the year, and we have worked very hard on the good platform that we had at the end of 2012. We are arriving here in Melbourne in the most positive shape since I have joined. I hope that with refining a lot of details on the 2012 car we will be able to step up the ladder.
Q: What conclusion - if any - have you taken from the winter tests?
PdR: I think what will be really interesting to see is how everybody gets along with the supersoft tyres, as nobody has any real track experiences with it. Other than that we havent seen what the true performance of any team is. Mercedes surprisingly look very, very strong, but we also havent seen Red Bulls true potential yet. For the moment you can be really relaxed - the real test will come on Saturday afternoon. All you can do right now is to be optimistic that you are very fast. Friday will be the day to see happy or frustrated faces - and the true colours will show on Saturday! (laughs)
Q: What components will be key this season?
PdR: Making the tyres work. And downforce: it is key to the lap time. Putting good clean downforce on the car can make your day.
Q: Force Indias immediate challengers are Sauber and Williams. Both are running rookies as their second driver. Will that have positive effects on Force India, who are going into the season with two experienced guys?
PdR: Yes, I think it will. Both teams do not know how their rookies will perform, whereas Force India can go into the season with the knowledge of having two drivers that have proved that they can deliver.
Q: Finally, back to racing again: what are your expectations for Sunday? What would you consider a satisfying weekend? Melbourne has always been an unusual race
PdR: Anywhere in the top three would make us very happy! I think that could be a realistic target. Further up would be a dream - anything behind would be a reasonable start into the season. Weve scored points the past two seasons here
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