Scots Formula One newcomer Paul di Resta savoured his first full day as part of the action in the Force India garage ahead of Sunday’s opening grand of the season in Bahrain.
And the 23-year-old from Bathgate, the team’s official reserve and test driver, is confident both Force India cars, driven by Adrian Sutil and Tonio Liuzzi, have the pace to finish in the points.
“I think we’ve shown today all the hard work we’ve put in over the winter and the pre-season testing is paying off,” Di Resta said today as he sheltered from the searing sun at the Sakhir circuit.
“Adrian was fastest in the opening 90-minute practice session this morning, 0.183secs quicker than Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, and Tonio was seventh-fastest, so we proved we have the pace.
“In the afternoon session the guys concentrated on longer runs and comparisons of the two tyre compounds available this weekend. Some of the other teams opted to concentrate on lighter fuel loads which meant we finished 12th and 14th.
“But the important thing is, we’re quick. The next target is to get both of our cars through into the final qualifying session on Saturday; do that and we can bag good points, which would be a great way to start the season.
“I’m confident we can be regular top 10 runners this season. Compared to last year the car has better downforce, and the car is reacting well to different fuel loads and to different tyres. Our race pace looks good for this weekend.”
Di Resta — who observed everything the team and drivers did, as well as sitting in on the drivers briefings and debriefings — will drive the Force India VJM03 in the Friday practice sessions ahead of the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne in a fortnight.