Twelve months after his debut British Grand Prix was wrecked by a pitstop blunder of amateur proportions, Bathgate driver Paul Di Resta returns to Silverstone this weekend, promising his fans an all-out attack.
The 26-year-old Scot who, in the opening eight grands prix has already equalled the 27 world championship points he scored in the whole of last season, is fired up for his biggest race of the year.
“If you can’t deliver in front of your home supporters and fans, then you’re not doing your job,” said the Sahara Force India team leader.
“Even before I started racing in F1, the British Grand Prix was always the biggest race of the year for me. Now it’s even more important.”
With 285,000 race fans – many of them from Scotland – flocking to the Northamptonshire circuit over the three days, Di Resta knows he will have a massive following.
And given that his Sahara Force India team’s HQ is just across the road from the circuit’s main entrance, most of the team will also be scrutinising his every move.
“I know all the guys at the factory will be coming to watch the action over the weekend, so it’s important I deliver for them, too,” he continued.
“They’re the guys who work behind the scenes to deliver the car I race every weekend, so hopefully I can give them something of a payback this weekend.”
Di Resta is hoping the team doesn’t repeat the experience of last year when he was, indeed, on course to pay back the team.
“After qualifying a brilliant sixth, the talented young Scot was on course for a seventh-place finish when his pit crew botched the pitstop.
As Di Resta parked his car outside his garage, the team realised the tyres they had lined up for the Scot’s car were actually those for his team-mate, Adrian Sutil. The 30-second delay ruined his race and he eventually finished 15th.
“Aye, that was a bad day at he office,” Di Resta reflected. “But in many ways it was the turning point of the season because we all sat down afterwards, analysed what had gone wrong and made sure we didn’t repeat it.”
The result was Di Resta and the team improved dramatically. The car’s reliability remained rock solid, and consistent points followed, the highlight being his sixth place in Singapore.
This season Di Resta has already matched that sixth place, but he admits he should already have at least a Formula One top-five finish on his CV.
“There’s been a couple of races so far this year when we’ve been in the position to push for the top five but we’ve made the wrong call on tyres,” admitted Di Resta, whose race last time out at Valencia a fortnight ago was ruined by the team’s decision to do a one-stopper.
“The car at Valencia was the best I’ve driven over a grand prix weekend, but I made a small mistake in qualifying, which meant I started tenth. Then we stuck to the one-stop strategy. The result was I finished seventh, but it should have been better.”
It’s a mark of Di Resta’s progress, improvement, raw natural ability and hunger that he wasn’t content with seventh.
And it’s that desire for success which has put him top of a number of the leading team’s ‘wanted’ list for 2013. While he has been linked with Ferrari and Red Bull, it’s expected he will switch to Mercedes for next season, filling the seat vacated by Michael Schumacher.
For now, though, Di Resta, who this week split with his manager Anthony Hamilton, is remaining fully focused on this weekend’s British Grand Prix.
“I’ve a big job to do this weekend,” he stated. “We’ve shown all season that the car is fast and reliable, plus this weekend we have some new upgrades which will be fitted to the car.
“That said, of course, we don’t know what the weather will do this weekend, but it’s definitely not looking good.
“I think it’s fair to say it’s going to be a traditional British summer wet race, and that will make things very unpredictable.
“Of course, if you’re on the right side of the unpredictable result, it’s great. If you’re not, then it’s hugely disappointing.
“But I head to Silverstone confident we have the pace to mix it at the front of the field. And while we’re definitely not taking anything for granted – to beat the success we had last year is going to be a handful in itself – we’re pretty fired-up.
“The one thing I can promise the fans is I’ll definitely be giving 100 per cent to deliver the right result for them, the team and myself.
“It’s going to be a case of all-out attack right from the start, and I think it’s going to be a hell of a weekend.”