F1: Last-lap dash cheers up Paul Di Resta

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Bathgate’s Formula One ace Paul di Resta arrived in Malaysia this morning having got his 2012 campaign off to a positive start in Australia.

The 25-year-old from West Lothian grabbed the final world championship point in the opening grand prix of the year after a thrilling last-gasp dash to the line.

Di Resta, who started from 15th on the grid, dropped to 17th as the cars careered into the first right-hander at the start of the race. His position was further compromised when he had to slow down dramatically, and take to the grass, to avoid the stricken Williams of Bruno Senna which had spun into the middle of the track.

“Not the ideal start to the race,” Di Resta admitted, “but from there it was a case of gathering everything back together and sticking to our race plan.”

Entering the final lap, Di Resta was a distant 13th, but when he crossed the finish line 3.3-mile miles later, the Scot had dramatically stolen tenth place.

First Pastor Maldonado, lying sixth, crashed his Williams heavily. Then Nico Rosberg’s Mercedes suffered a puncture when his car was clipped at the rear by the Sauber of Sergio Perez. The incident robbed Rosberg of a possible seventh place.

All of this allowed Di Resta to close up on the back of the pack containing the Lotus of Kimi Raikkonen, Perez, and the two Toro Rosso cars of Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne in ninth and tenth.

While Raikkonen and Perez held on to finish seventh and eighth, Di Resta got more drive out of the final corner and outsprinted Vergne pipping him by a car’s length as they crossed the finish line.

“That was tight,” Di Resta admitted before dashing to the airport to catch a flight to Kuala Lumpar to prepare for this weekend’s Malaysian Grand Prix. “It’s always nice to start the season with a point, but it was not looking too promising until the last few laps when my engineer told me that I was catching the cars ahead of me.

“Fortunately I had saved quite a bit of KERS for the last corner, which helped me get a good run on Vergne and beat him to the line. So it was a pretty exciting final lap. It’s a good way to start the season, but it’s clear we have a lot of work to do because we were struggling for pace at the start of each stint, which hurt my pace. Even so, considering where I started and the weekend we’ve had, I don’t think I can be disappointed to have a point.”

Jenson Button won the race ahead of Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel, with Button’s McLaren team-mate Lewis Hamilton in third.