A FORTNIGHT after securing his best-ever finish in his rookie Formula One season, sixth under the street lights of Singapore, Paul di Resta was in action today ahead of Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix.
The 25-year-old from Bathgate, who led his Force India team-mate, the more experienced Adrian Sutil, to a double-points finish in Singapore, is fired-up for his race debut at the daunting, high-speed Suzuka circuit.
“Am I looking forward to Suzuka? Absolutely,” Di Resta beamed. “It’s one of those venues that stands out because all the drivers love it and say great things about it.
“I was here last year – my first visit to Japan – and saw it for myself. Just walking the track makes you respect the place because it’s narrow, fast and has some really unusual corners.
“It also a technical lap; you can take different lines through some of the corners so there will be a lot for me to learn during practice.”
Di Resta was 15th after both practice sessions today, underlying his need to get used to the track, and will be hoping to post a better time tomorrow in qualifying after Sutil placed 12th. Britain’s Jenson Button topped the standings with Fernando Alonso second and world champion Sebastian Vettel third. But Di Resta is confident the updates fitted to his Force India VJM04, which paid off so handsomely in Singapore, will again pay off this weekend.
“In Singapore the upgrade package worked as we expected and contributed to the end result,” he continued, “and we’re confident they will deliver again at Suzuka.
“I’m feeling very positive. Things have really come together quite well in the middle part of the year and I think we’ve delivered as a team.
“We’ve moved quite a few points clear of Sauber in the race for sixth in the constructors’ championship, and now we’ve got our eyes fixed on Renault in fifth.
“We’ve five races remaining in the season, and though the gap to Renault is big, it’s not insurmountable. The key for us is to get both cars in the points for the remainder of the season.”
While Di Resta is targeting another top-ten finish, Red Bull’s Vettel is determined to bag the result which clinches his second successive world championship.
But the 24-year-old German is doing everything in his power to play down the expectation.
“At the moment I am not trying to think about the championship,” he said. “I want to focus on this race and then soon enough we will find out if we are in a good position or not.
“Of course it’s a lot different to last year where we knew we had to deliver to keep the chances alive. This year we are in a strong position and looking forward to it in a way, but even if it is very close, it is still important to be aware that you need to do that final step. Whether it is ten points or one point, we still have to go out and do it.”
McLaren duo Lewis Hamilton and Button will be doing their utmost to deny Vettel victory in Japan, with Button eager to repay his team’s faith after signing a new multi-year contract.
“I would love to win here, this is a circuit along with Spa and Monaco that is such a challenge,” the former world champ said. “We are in the hunt and I am looking forward to a fun weekend and hopefully we can get up there.
Here is like Spa, probably with higher downforce, but it’s a flowing medium/high speed circuit. The car worked well in Spa and hopefully it will be the same case here.”