Di Resta: At Spa we bounced back pretty well
"There were definitely some points up for grabs"
Paul Di Resta had something of a rollercoaster weekend at Spa: the Sahara Force India driver enjoying the buzz of being in the fight for pole on Saturday only to retire from the race after an accident that was not his fault.
A great strategy call by the team in a damp Q3 helped Paul to earn fifth place on the grid, but his dry pace in the middle session was also impressive.
“Qualifying was a great surprise I think,” he says. “And P8 in Q2 to get through to Q3 was very good. It was a great job by everyone in the team. We all made a very good call in Q3. It was risky, but it put us in a good position for the race.”
Unfortunately some of his advantage was immediately lost when the lights went out.
“We got off to quite a bad start. I think we fell back to about 11th at the first corner, but got back up to seventh, fortunately. The way we approached our set-up meant that I could pass a Lotus into Eau Rouge, and I got Nico [Hülkenberg] up the hill. So I was back into P7, which was probably reflective of our speed for that point in the race.
“We had a good first stint, we probably got the stop right, but when we came out from the first stop I kind of just got caught in a gaggle of cars, and grained the front tyre. When you’re trying to get by people who have got DRS from the car in front it just makes it difficult. I made a little mistake, Adrian got through, and we were running similar pace.”
Paul felt a lot happier after making his second pit stop on lap 25.
“Then we got on the last set, which felt exceptional. For the lap and a half I did before the incident we were really making some pace, which was a bit of a surprise, how quick it was at that point.”
Unfortunately his race came to an end at the final corner on his 27th lap. Paul was in contention for points and fighting in a group with Adrian, Pastor Maldonado and Esteban Gutierrez when he was struck hard by the Williams driver. Extensive damage meant that he was an instant retirement.
“I don’t know what Maldonado was really thinking, because there was no way he was even making the other side of the [pit entry] cone, and in the process of taking me out probably could have taken another two cars out at the same time.
“I’m not going to point the finger, but it’s pretty clear that I was kind of stuck where I was and there was nothing I could do to avoid it. I was going for the cutback, and because he was so wide I never assumed that he was anywhere near.
“I was quite surprised that he could carry on. It damaged everything from the radiator back on my car – It made a right mess of it!”
Despite the disappointing retirement, Paul was encouraged by the overall speed that the car showed during the weekend. Ahead of Monza he remains optimistic.
“I think at Spa we bounced back pretty well. That is where our car is, it’s fighting for ninth and tenth if everything goes well. There were definitely some points up for grabs.”