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Di Resta takes praise in his stride

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Sarah Holt | 12:57 UK time, Friday, 15 April 2011

In Shanghai

Rookie Paul di Resta has been the subject of high praise in the Formula 1 paddock in Shanghai after scoring a point in each of his first two races.

The Scottish Force India driver was even likened by one journalist to French legend Alain Prost, another rookie who collected points on his debut.

Praise does not come much higher than that - Prost, who first burst on to the F1 scene with McLaren in 1980, went on to win four world championships and 51 grands prix.

But Di Resta is refusing to get caught up in the hype bubbling around him because he views his performances in Australia and Malaysia somewhat differently.

"All I can say is that we expected a bit more but for whatever reason it didn't quite come," Di Resta told BBC Sport.

"It's nice to get [my first points] out the way at the first and second grands prix.

"But that is the job we're out there to do and it has been a realistic target on both occasions."

Talking to Di Resta in Shanghai, I was impressed by his aura of almost palpable steeliness mixed with calm. Here is a man with a definite plan.

If the main priority on his F1 tick-list was collecting his first F1 points, then the second is beating the man in the same machinery.

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Di Resta, who was signed by Force India in January after learning the ropes last season as the team reserve, has already out-qualified team-mate Adrian Sutil twice and finished one place ahead of the German in Malaysia.

He had also been ahead of Sutil in Melbourne but the pair swapped places in the pits because they were running on different strategies and Di Resta crossed the line just behind Sutil in 10th.

"You can gauge yourself against your team-mate," added Di Resta. "And I've got a lot of respect for Adrian.

"I'd like to keep it where it's been and through the races I'm gaining more confidence. I did get the better of him in Malaysia but it's not always going to be like that.

"I wouldn't say he has to be afraid. Adrian is very quick and he's established, all I can say is that our performance has been comparable."

Winning a place in F1 has also given Di Resta, who is the cousin of the three-time IndyCar champion Dario Franchitti, a second chance to test his mettle against his former rivals Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton.

In his junior career, Di Resta raced against the future F1 world champions, notably beating his then team-mate Vettel to the Formula Three Euroseries crown in 2006 when the German was already dipping his toe into F1 as a tester for BMW Sauber.

Now he has returned to competition with his teenage rivals, does Di Resta think they have grown beyond him in terms of talents?

"They've got good equipment and they're good drivers but at the same time I don't think that anybody's special," he added.

"It's been good [to be competing against them] but at the same time they are a little bit up the end of the grid.

"I'd like to be racing against them. One day I'm sure we will be but I'm not going to compare myself against Sebastian when I'm not in the same car."

Paul di Resta

Di Resta has out-qualified his experienced team-mate in both races so far. Photo: Getty

And what if Di Resta was alongside Vettel in the second Red Bull?

"I'd be hopeful I'd be as competitive as Sebastian," he added.

"How much he has developed and how much I've developed from 2006 no-one will ever now until we are in the same position again."

Di Resta is refreshingly clear and open about where he finds himself in his fledging F1 career and where he wants to go.

But there are two points on which the Scot would not be drawn; what his ultimate aim is for 2011 and what difficulties he is contending with.

"I've tried not to think about personal targets at the moment," added Di Resta, whose preparations for the Chinese Grand Prix were hampered by a fuel-pressure problem that kept him consigned to the pits for second practice on Friday. "It's too early to do that.

"I'll take it week by week but what I've achieve I want more now of - and you keep wanting more until you've got it.

"I'm not going to speculate on what [I find difficult] as there are people who will pick up on it and I believe that on the outside you need to show you're strong.

"That is the whole idea of competitive nature, you pick someone's weak bits and you bounce on top of it."

There is one wish, however, that Di Resta is happy to talk about and that is the treat he would like for his 25th birthday, which he celebrates this weekend.

"I'd like some more points," he says instinctively. "I'd like some nice cars but there is plenty of time later in life for that, so I'll take some more points."

POST-QUALIFYING UPDATE, 1100 BST, SATURDAY 16 APRIL:

Di Resta's quest to end his birthday weekend on a high with more points to add to his tally was given a nice boost by a career-best qualifying performance in Shanghai.

The 25-year-old had not done any qualifying simulations during his limited running on Friday but he battled his way into the top-10 shoot-out for the first time and claimed eighth on the grid.

Di Resta, who passed Nico Rosberg of Mercedes in Malaysia and almost got the better of Michael Schumacher's Silver Arrow in a battle for ninth place, is now feeling confident he can move forwards during the race.

"Our race pace doesn't seem to be too bad," said Di Resta. "So fingers crossed we can pick up some points again."

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    He's definitely one to watch for the future but I don't know where he would get a seat. It's highly unlikely Red Bull will ever have two drivers who are competing right at the top again after Vettel and Webber's fall out last year. McLaren already have Button and Hamilton for the next few years, according to Whitmarsh, and I doubt Ferrari would take a Brit on.

    Good luck this weekend Mr Di Resta!!

  • Comment number 2.

    He seems a very nice chap, modest and level-headed.
    Not sure I entirely agree with comment 1 - if he gets the best of the Force India this year - which it looks like he is already doing - then he will start to be on the shopping list of all the rest of the midfield. Perhaps both seats are taken at McLaren for the forseeable future, but Ferrari have taken a Brit before in Mansell. However, Webber isn't going to be at Red Bull for ever, and I cannot see why Christian Horner would want to settle for second best in the second seat. Why would a team ever NOT try to get the two best drivers that it could (unless it's Ferrari in the days of Schumacher - when Irvine then Rubens were employed as his tail gunners to keep everyone else from challenging him).
    In any case, it seems that the Red Bull will only be the car to be in as long as Adrian Newey is the man designing it - wherever he goes the silverware seems to follow.
    Anyway, Paul Di Resta? - good luck! (I DO agree with #1 on that)

  • Comment number 3.

    "...I doubt Ferrari would take a Brit on."

    With some Italian blood, so who knows? ;)

  • Comment number 4.

    Di Resta comes across as a seriously impressive guy and his performances have backed that up.

    Surely the kind of man that Ross Brawn would love to work with. I know they're off the pace at the moment but they've done it once so why not again and to make it even sweeter they could have a young Brit in the car.

  • Comment number 5.

    He has got a really good head on his shoulders. Its clear to everyone he is going to be a top top driver.

    Only a matter of time befoe he finds his way into a fast car. If Kubica doesn't come back to F1 because of his rally crash, then he might find himself at Renault next season.

    Cannot wait for the day when its an all Brit podium :) go on the Brits

  • Comment number 6.

    @3
    Did you forget about Nigel Mansell? I'm pretty sure Il Lione drove for ferrari...

  • Comment number 7.

    Di Resta seems like a very calm and level-headed guy. I don't think it's fair to judge his previous history against Vettel as the times and formula were too different. You have to remember some of these guys have very different records in lower categories. Still it does bode well if he can first regularly outperform Adrian Sutil and Di Resta did get some push from Mercedes into the Force India, so if the engine manufacturer can pull future strings as well - we could see him in a Mclaren one day. It's a shame the Force India has lost some of it's momentum this year with the design crew departures and Vijay's money troubles as it would have been great for Paul to be able to develop in a charger.

  • Comment number 8.

    Seems everybody has forgotten about Eddie Irvine in a ferarri

  • Comment number 9.

    John Surtees?

  • Comment number 10.

    Heinz-Harold Frentzen regularly beat one M. Schumacher in their earlier careers so don't read too much into the Vettle - Di Resta battles of old (when it comes to current form).

    That said, I don't imagine Vettle would want him as his team-mate at RB...

  • Comment number 11.

    #3. Did you forget about Eddie Irvine?

  • Comment number 12.

    things look good for senor di resta methinks. got pedigree (dario), results (and i know we shouldnt compare his earlier career vs. vettel, but he did win the dtm chamionship, in itself the pinnacle of its discipline), and by the look of his interviews, and character, he also has intelligence, ambition, and confidence. oh...and backing by mercedes. and he's a scot too. sweeeeeeeeeet

  • Comment number 13.

    As a fellow Scottish-Italian, its superb to see one in Formula 1 - can't believe he's matched and outshone Sutil so early. The measure of a rookie like De Resta is how they perform against their teammate and if he keeps this up for the rest of the season, I dont see why Renault or somebody else wont come looking for him.

    Best of luck Paul, you seem like an absolutely sound guy, hope the early promise is the sign of a great F1 career in the making. Move over Hamilton.

  • Comment number 14.

    Why not a brit? Nigel Mansell is fondly remembered by the Tifosi as is Irvine, besides Paul Di Resta is part Italian as his grandfather hailed from there via Whitburn in Scotland.

    He's one to watch if there's a vacancy and given that any driver in F1 can have an accident like Kubica or even Schumacher when he broke his leg!

  • Comment number 15.

    Why is there always someone in every blog post comments misspelling main drivers names(e.g. post 10, he is not a Kettle) whilst equally carrying on like an expert. On topic, great potential but as everything in F1, you can only go as far as your car and even your half of the garage can take you, talent/skill is such a diminished factor nowadays.

  • Comment number 16.

    It's weird hearing his radio coms when he's driving. He sounds like Jackie Stewart.

  • Comment number 17.

    If Mark Webber underperforms this season, I personally think it'll be the end for him at Red Bull, especially if Vettle goes on to win his 2nd title. That would mean that a seat was available for Lewis Hamilton in 2012, in itself leaving a seat available at Mclaren. Maybe Di Resta will end up with Jensen. Speculation is a wonderful thing!

  • Comment number 18.

    to POST 10
    HHF was in fact quite a competitive driver in his later years. You cant really compare anyone of Schumi though due to the dominant machinery he had.

    Di Resta has a bright future for sure but it is still early days. I remember a Nico Rosberg getting debut points and while slightly unlucky in some respects in his career; he hasnt set the world on fire (he is still a top driver no doubt). It is very reassuring Di Resta is talking a careful approach to the hype and should stand him in better stead as a result.

    ITS VETTEL
    Holy moley

  • Comment number 19.

    Great start from di Resta. Again out-qualified Sutil (3 out of 3 now) and is first debutant to score points in first two races since Lewis Hamilton four years ago (yes it has been that long!):

    The Chequered Flag: "Vettel pulls out Chinese cracker" - Report of China GP qualifying: http://tinyurl.com/5wgonmo

  • Comment number 20.

    Di Resta looks like a great driver and 8th on the grid shows that as well as out-qualifying Sutil 3-0 this season.

    Ferrari have employed plenty of Brits just none in the last few years, as they had Hawthorn, Surtees, Tony Brooks and Peter Collins in the 50's and 60's showing they have and potentially will employ them in the future.

    All the best for Paul in tomorrow's race!

  • Comment number 21.

    Oh dear, it's VETTEL!

    Perhaps, if people stopped talking about him on the tv as 'Vettle', then people that are thinking about their posts and not world journalism would stop spelling his name wrong.

    Personally though, I think 'Kettle' is a great analogy: think back to his on-and-off track antics with Webber last year (or is that Vebber?).

    This is a blog, not English (or German) homework - stop griping about spellings and concentrate on the topic. Lyla = Troll?

  • Comment number 22.

    Webber's got a one lap chance. Car's been riddled with problems in the practise sessions. His 1st two races have had problems too. The option tyre would give a chance to regain time if he made a passionate mistake - being 1 second or so faster. So they put him on a set of badly heated primes, with no KER's to boot. Now that takes thought.

    Oh, nice one DIR.

  • Comment number 23.

    At 14:56pm 15th Apr 2011, 1974andallthat wrote:

    "...I doubt Ferrari would take a Brit on."

    Probably what people said when they hired Nigel Mansell.

    As for comment #1, Button is not going to be around forever, and neither is Webber. We're talking about a young man who is right at the start of his career, if he develops, I could well see him taking the place of a button or webber once they've moved on.

  • Comment number 24.

    By the way:

    "McLaren already have Button and Hamilton for the next few years,"

    We're not talking about Di Resta getting a McLaren seat in the next 5 minutes. Button does'nt have a long run in a top seat left. He's got a few years at best and when he moves on, thats when you will see the likes of a Di Resta ready to race for McLaren.

    Nobody said it had to happen in the next 5 minutes.

  • Comment number 25.

    I think Paul Di Resta is destined for great things, and I suspect the front running teams are watching his progress. He's a guy not easily fased as his recent interviews demonstrate. - and he knows precisely what he's taking about and puts it across most elequently. I would sum him up as steely and determined. - He now needs a front running car where I have no doubt he will be able to cut it with the best.

  • Comment number 26.

    i think the most obvious choice for di resta is 1 more year at force india and then he will go to mercedes we he has strong links and by that time schumi will have had his fun but unsuccsefull comeback out of the way and the up and coming stars can continue i dont think schumi should have come back and also think its time for trulli to make way now

  • Comment number 27.

    Riggadon & daemon

    "...I doubt Ferrari would take a Brit on."

    I was quoting from the first post - that's why I used quotation marks ;)

    Good performance from di Resta today.

  • Comment number 28.

    22

    Interesting points but Mark Webber has his say on the tyre choice. He and red bull misjudged the pace of the field trying to save tyres for the race.





  • Comment number 29.

    @ #4...scarfer1
    Who do you think Michael replaced? Oh, that's right. A young brit WHO WAS WORLD CHAMPION NO LESS!
    according to my sauces :) there have been ten brits altogether who have driven for Ferrari:
    Peter Whitehead 1951
    Mike Hawthorn 1953-1955,1957-58
    Peter Collins 1956-58
    Tony Brooks 1959
    John Surtees 1965-66
    Mike Parkes 1966-67
    Jonathan Williams 1967
    Derek Bell 1968
    Nigel Mansell 1990
    Eddie Irvine 1996-99

  • Comment number 30.

    Paul is clearly a special talent, his Mercedes connections have probably got him this drive. I would suggest that if he continues to impress he could well end up jumping into a certain other German's seat when he retires(again)

  • Comment number 31.

    He could be the driver that Renault are looking for.

  • Comment number 32.

    "How much he has developed and how much I've developed from 2006 no-one will ever now until we are in the same position again."
    I think that the word "know" is more suitable in this quote than "now". Other than that, a very interesting and informative article, thanks Sarah. Enjoy the race everyone.

  • Comment number 33.

    "They've got good equipment and they're good drivers but at the same time I don't think that anybody's special," he added.

    Sure Paul, I have no doubt you would have beaten your double world champion in your 1st year. and become world champion in your 2nd year with the 2nd best car on the grid. 

    And I'm sure you would have won at Monza in the rain in a midfield car in your first full season.

    But there's nothing special about them. Sponsorship money naturally goes to the best drivers in junior formulae. If there was nothing special about Lewis and Sebastien how come they are starting their 5th season in F1 and you're starting your 1st? If you were as good as them you would have been given the same opportunities.

    Its really annoying hearing rookies come into F1 who have nt achieved anything in F1 at all, try to bring down those who have been successful, particularly those who are World Champions who are the same age as them or younger and say its primarily down to the equipment.

    Nico Rosberg did this in 2007, saying Lewis' success was due to the car; then ran a mile when given the opportunity to be Lewis' team mate. Nelson Piquet said the same thing and proved to be slower than a tortoise.

    I guess they say it to deal with their insecurity and jealousy of those who are younger than them and have already achieved their life long ambition of being world champion. Something they won't achieve for many years if ever.

    So if for both Lewis and Seb; being world champion at 23, now entering their 5th season of F1, leading the championship 1 and 2, only race winners this season, battling each other for every race win, widely acknowledged to be the 2 fastest drivers in F1, both global superstars. If that merits just a "good" from you, what does that make you? A 25 year just starting his F1 career with the 8th best team in F1.

    Throughout the history of F1 the best teams with the best cars naturally want the best drivers. And the not so good drivers in the not so good cars have always been jealous of the best drivers' success and world championships and tried to make out its mainly the car. It always been this way, it always will be this way.

  • Comment number 34.

    Lyla - Coulthard regularly pronounces Nick Heidfeld's name "Heidfield" and I think you'd have a hard time arguing that he is anything other than an expert. Spelling/pronunciation errors do not automatically mean you don't know what you're talking about.

 

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