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Paul di Resta Q&A: Fending off McLaren will be tough 09 May 2013

Paul di Resta (GBR) Force India F1 walks the track with Gianpiero Lambiase (ITA) Force India Formula One Team Engineer.
Formula One World Championship, Rd5, Spanish Grand Prix, Preparations, Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, 9 May 2013 Paul di Resta (GBR) Force India VJM06 on the grid.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix, Race Day, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Sunday, 21 April 2013 Paul di Resta (GBR) Force India F1 in parc ferme.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix, Race Day, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Sunday, 21 April 2013 Paul di Resta (GBR) Force India VJM06.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix, Race Day, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Sunday, 21 April 2013 Paul di Resta (GBR) Force India F1.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix, Qualifying, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Saturday, 20 April 2013 Paul di Resta (GBR) Force India VJM06.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix, Practice, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Friday, 19 April 2013 (L to R): Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren and Paul di Resta (GBR) Force India F1.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix, Practice, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Friday, 19 April 2013 Paul di Resta (GBR) Force India VJM06.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix, Practice, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Friday, 19 April 2013 Paul di Resta (GBR) Force India VJM06.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix, Practice, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Friday, 19 April 2013 Paul di Resta (GBR) Force India F1.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix Preparations, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Thursday, 18 April 2013 Paul di Resta (GBR) Force India F1 rides the track with Gianpiero Lambiase (ITA) Force India Formula One Team Engineer.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix, Practice, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Friday, 19 April 201

Force India’s Paul di Resta equalled his best-ever F1 finish with fourth place at the last round in Bahrain. It was the result of a hard winter’s work from the team, who on the back of a strong start to the season now lie fifth in the standings - ahead of McLaren. Di Resta, however, is not getting carried away. The Scot knows they must find more qualifying speed to complement their race pace if they are to have any chance of staying ahead of their Woking rivals, as he explained exclusively to Formula1.com…

Q: Paul, it looks like you are on a steep upward curve - it seemed to come about so suddenly…
Paul di Resta:
Ha, to be honest it isn’t so suddenly at all. We had a good start into the season and if we hadn’t had the issues in Malaysia and in China we certainly would have scored a lot of points and would be in an even better position. I have worked extremely hard over the winter - the team has worked extremely hard over the winter - so we probably see now the rewards of this hard work. What is now paramount is to keep the car where it is - to keep our performance at that level to be able to stay where we are. But we have to keep the respect from McLaren - they are breathing down our neck. With the resources that they have - and the history - we have to be on our guard.

Q: You say that you worked so hard over the winter - when you had no confirmed team mate for 2013 - and now the results are showing. So was it a blessing that yours was the only driver’s opinion that counted?
PdR:
Let’s put it this way, right now I can’t see that it was a negative. It was obviously difficult and hard - also not knowing who will occupy the spot in the garage next to me - but I enjoyed that very intense work with the team, with the guys I’ve known since I joined Force India. We have started into the season with our best ever campaign. Consistency is the keyword that propels us.

Q: You are eighth in the standings with some big names behind you, like Jenson Button and Nico Rosberg. So it sounds like this is going to be a pleasant season for you, but will it last?
PdR:
Well, this is the race where all the teams will bring massive updates - and it will be up to us to see that ours work. I certainly hope that my position will outlast this weekend.

Q: What kind of updates are on Force India’s agenda for this weekend?
PdR:
You don’t want to know that - because if told you I would have to kill you! (laughs) We’ve brought new things on the mechanical and the aero side and I think our mechanical stuff is very interesting. I hope that we will have a productive day tomorrow and be able to implement all the new things and have the confidence to run them. Should we realize that they are not what they should be, we go back to the base line because the car is working well and our focus clearly has to be on scoring points. Points for us - anytime - are a key thing, especially if you are only three points ahead of McLaren. Realistically our main rivals are Williams and Sauber, but as we are still ahead of McLaren that bridges the gap and maximizes our chances in the pecking order.

Q: At the last race in Bahrain you were so close to a podium finish. Why didn’t it happen?
PdR:
Because we didn’t have a fast enough car. Essentially Grosjean not qualifying in Q3 caught us out because he had a lot of fresh tyres. He had four new sets and easily could do a three-stop race, whereas we went for two stops with used tyres. That is cutting a long story short…

Q: What was on your mind when Grosjean passed you?
PdR:
That I’ve been very close to a podium. Maybe we could have done things differently - maybe with a more aggressive strategy. But if somebody had told me that I was in for a fourth place on our own merit - no crashes in front of you and no big dramas - then we’d have to take it. And the good thing is when you finish in P4 the natural impulse is to go one better the next time, to really go for the podium. (laughs)

Q: Was there a moment when you thought you would bring P3 home?
PdR:
Of course. We thought that we were racing Mark Webber and suddenly Grosjean took us by surprise. His pace rapidly ramped up towards the end of the race.

Q: Was it really down to him not running in Q3 and saving tyres?
PdR:
Well, he had four new sets of tyres: two new sets of primes and two new sets of options. In that crucial part of the race he was on options and I was on prime and we did a longer stint. You could see that his speed was better than Kimi’s (Raikkonen’s), and Kimi finished second. If we had had a faster car in that situation, we would have done it.

Q: When looking at the race results you could argue that good strategy and tyre management are worth more than a good qualifying this year. Is that what is boosting Lotus and Force India? How do you see that?
PdR:
I wouldn’t say so. Look at Sebastian Vettel. He started from the front row and won the race - he probably wouldn’t have done so starting further back on the grid. I still would go for a good qualifying position. Look at what happened to us in Shanghai - our performance over one lap was not good. Until we got to stint three we were stuck in traffic and couldn’t pass - had graining tyres - but once we were clear of traffic we caught 17 seconds on the Sauber in one stint. Our pace was exceptional - but our speed in qualifying wasn’t good enough. In Bahrain we had a good qualifying performance, we were clear of traffic, and that gave us the chance to run the strategy we wanted. Look, we know that the speed of our car is not like Red Bull or Mercedes, so you have to go for a different way of thinking - you have to play the long game. You look at nice pit stops and keeping yourself out of trouble - so that is a different approach. But be clear, we as a team would definitely rather go for a pole position and fight for the win from the front of the race.

Q: So you don’t think you should forsake a good qualifying position for the chance of better race pace?
PdR:
You maybe gamble slightly at some races, but generally no. In the position we are in at the moment we go for qualifying. Maybe the Lotus works better when they are heavy - probably like the Ferraris: they look very good in race conditions compared to qualifying. Then you have Mercedes: they qualify well but struggle in the race. It is so on the limit where you go. Thank God for us you get points in the race, where we are a bit stronger.

Q: There is a modified hard tyre compound this weekend. Will that mean even more advantage for you?
PdR:
I don’t see it to be negative. The hotter it is the more we would love it, but I don’t see a dramatic change. But that could all be wrong, as none of us has driven it. It is the same compound as last year but a different construction.

Q: Force India are now fifth in the constructors’ standings, but the realistic aim is to finish in P6. How difficult is it to defend against McLaren?
PdR:
It is hard to defend. At the moment I don’t see it that you could say that we would finish in P5 - realistically. If we were to find ourselves still in P5 after 12 races then I would start to believe that we have a chance to defend. But P6 is realistic - and achievable.

Q: With the tailwind of Bahrain behind you, what is your target for this weekend?
PdR:
I would say that Barcelona is one of the hardest races to predict. Everybody has a lot of data from this track, so you can much more easily rely on stored information. But this weekend everything will be about updates working or not. Barcelona generally always means a big step in development, so I would be happy if we qualify in Q3 and finish in the range of P7 - that would be a good result for us. It is no secret that Barcelona and Monaco are the most difficult tracks for us as they rely so much on downforce - and generally we are a bit slower on the downforce sectors. We are better on the straights. But never underestimate the tailwind of a good result! (laughs)

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