March 13th, 2013 (F1plus/ J. Leslie).- The Scot has hailed winter testing as the “best winter” of his career yet, after completing plenty of running ahead of the first race weekend this weekend.
This was, of course, due to the prolonged decision of who would be his team-mate in 2013. The Silverstone squad eventually chose former driver Adrian Sutil, but the late conclusion meant Di Resta had plenty of time out on track.
In a team press release he said “It’s been a very positive winter – probably the best winter I can remember while I have been with the team – and I’ve done as much preparation as I can both on and off the track. It’s my third year as a race driver and I’ve got the same team around me so I think that consistency will be very important this year.”
When asked about possible aims, he said it was too early to say after the inconclusive winter. “I think it’s only when we get to Melbourne that we will understand where we are compared to the other teams. You can look at the lap times in testing, but everybody is focused on their own programme so you can’t make any assumptions. What we can say is that we’re determined to push on from where we finished last season and the target for Melbourne has to be reaching Q3 and racing for points.”
Tyres seem to be the main talking point at the moment; the 26-year-old had a strong focus on the new Pirelli rubber over the winter months. “I think understanding the tyres is where we’ve put a lot of our energy because Pirelli have kept us busy with their new 2013 compounds, which appear to be more aggressive than last year. We have stability in the technical office, which helps, and we’ve tried to build more consistency into the car. We’re as well prepared as we can be, but the first two races in Australia and Malaysia are two of the toughest of the year. The grid seems very closely matched so it’s going to be interesting to see how things shake out in Melbourne.”
Adrian Sutil was contemplating a rather rushed winter. He said “It’s all happened very quickly, but I’ve received a warm welcome and it’s good to see lots of the happy and familiar faces once again. Its clear the team has grow, but I am working with my old race engineer (Brad Joyce) and this team still feels like ‘home’. It’s a new beginning; my second chance in Formula 1 and I intend to make the most of the opportunity.”
However he understood that targets are difficult to set after “three days in the car during testing.” However he does feel confident and “natural”, saying “already I’m feeling very comfortable. It’s very drive able and the balance is good. There is still a lot I need to understand, especially in terms of the tyres, but were in a good place already. It’s difficult to se t a goal for this weekend, but my target for the season is to improve on my 2011 performances and aim for some podiums. So we need to start the year well, aim high and take out chances.”
Force India completed plenty of mileage over the winter, mostly with Di Resta, and the car looks reliable. However we will only see its true potential after Saturday’s qualifying session.