Paul di Resta delight at 'best Formula 1 race'
Force India's Paul di Resta described the Singapore Grand Prix as the best race of his fledgling Formula 1 career.
The Scottish rookie finished in a season-high sixth place to collect eight points and move up from 15th to 13th in the drivers' championship.
When asked if this was his finest performance to date, Di Resta told BBC Sport: "I would definitely say so.
"I'm very happy. It's a big credit to the team - we worked really hard to try to achieve that."
Di Resta's previous best was seventh at the Hungarian Grand Prix but he drove a superb race at Marina Bay to go one better.
He lined up in 10th on the harder prime tyres, while all of the drivers in front of him started on the super-soft option compound.
DI RESTA'S DEBUT SEASON
- Australia - 10th
- Malaysia - 10th
- China - 11th
- Turkey - 23rd
- Spain - 12th
- Monaco - 12th
- Canada - 18th
- Europe - 14th
- Britain - 15th
- Germany - 13th
- Hungary - 7th
- Belgium - 11th
- Italy - 8th
- Singapore - 6th
That allowed him to stay out until lap 19 and rise as high as third as his rivals came in for fresh tyres.
After switching to the options Di Resta found himself fourth before a crash involving Michael Schumacher on lap 30 meant the safety car had to be deployed.
The 25-year-old stopped for a second set of primes and despite slipping back two spots, he held on to finish strongly.
"It was quite a long race," said Di Resta of the two-hour, 61-lap event held at night with temperatures in excess of 30C and humidity close to 80%.
"We were looking very strong before the safety car came out. We chose to go on the prime tyres and extend it [the first stint].
"When we went on to the option we were very quick and the team had said we need another eight laps out of them which was still easy enough to do.
"Then the safety car came out and I thought 'this is going to cause a bit of a problem', but when we changed on to the prime we could just really manage the pace towards [Nico] Rosberg and there was plenty left.
"It was just a matter of bringing the car home with the tyres in order and saving fuel just to be on the safe side."
“No one wants to see Lewis abandon the aggressive, charging driving style that makes him the most exciting driver in F1.”
Di Resta looked anything but fazed among the likes of Mercedes drivers Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg and the McLaren of Lewis Hamilton.
"Because we were reasonably quick after they had made their first pit stops we were still in front," he explained.
"They had quite a bit of pace compared to me at that point because they had fresh tyres. I wasn't going to compromise my own speed and track position to let them go and that was the key. Everything seemed to go in order and when we were in free air we were very strong."
A hydraulics problem limited Di Resta to only 21 laps in Friday practice and he was delighted with the race-day improvement.
"After missing Friday, no high-fuel runs, going into the race completely unknown, it's a big credit to the team," he added.