- Paul di Resta Q&A
'Everybody has to up their game'
After getting his first taste of the new Force India VJM05 at Jerez, Paul di Resta sat down with ESPNF1 to be quizzed on the new car, his expectations for 2012 and his future
Two days in the new car and 170 laps completed, how did you find the VJM05?
I think it's been quite a productive test in terms of the test items we got through, achieving what we had to do for the factory and wind tunnels and correlating the car to our design philosophies. Mainly this test is about doing that, just trying to get an understanding of where the car is.
From a driver's perspective has the car changed a lot from last year, especially with the loss of the exhaust-blown diffuser?
It's a bit different, but with the various tools they have and what the team give you they obviously take the biggest brunt of that. They give you a car that they think is balanced and you try to achieve as much as you can with that. The driving style changes slightly and the focus, but I'd say the biggest amount of work we've done is with the wind tunnel.
The tyres are also new, have you noticed any changes from the cockpit?
It's hard to directly say what they are. I think the compounds are far better than they were, I think Pirelli have done a good job there. In terms of construction work, it's difficult to say because the suspension and stuff changes so we're still trying to fully understand that ourselves.
Have you had the chance to push the car, or does that come later?
That's not really ... we're putting it through its paces, but wherever that is it is.
You've gone from a test driver in 2010 to the driver with the most miles with the team, does that add any pressure or responsibility?
It's equal status between me and Nico, we've done the same amount of racing in our careers and the same amount of grands prix. The team's philosophy is where it is, we have a good competitive nature and we both get on very well and we're both here to represent the team.
Is the team asking more from you in your second year?
Yes, and so they should. They should ask for more. We want to achieve bigger goals. I'm asking for more from them in the wind tunnel and with car setup and the whole design department and engineering structure. Everybody has to up their game if they want to improve.
In the second half of last year you started to get much better results, was that just the car getting better or was it you personally improving?
I think it's a combination. We always say we win as a team and we lose as a team. Everybody's commitment towards the end of last year was excellent and we punched above our weight and achieved an awesome thing by nearly taking fifth off of Renault, which was a big thing.
Probably. I raced in DTM for four years for Mercedes-Benz with the same structure at weekends in terms of the main event, media work and representing a huge brand like Mercedes-Benz. Also developing a car, building a new car every year and having 300 staff to deal with, it's the same kind of thing to Formula One. Obviously this is another step again, but the transition has been good. I came from being a test driver with a year overseeing the team but still being involved in DTM, combining the two and bouncing ideas off each] Last year I would say it was a big step, but one that I learned from the year before.
Was there any element of frustration that there were drivers you had raced against and beaten in lower categories getting their big break in Formula One while you were racing in DTM?
You always want to get there a bit quicker, but I wouldn't say the word frustrated. Just more eager to make things happen.
Just to clear something up, what is your exact relationship with Mercedes now, because you are so often linked to them?
I have a good relationship with Mercedes. I drove there for six years and they gave me a chance that I didn't have. But I'm a Force India driver, I have a contract with Force India, and I'll do my utmost to do my best. I've got a lot of respect for Norbert [Haug], Gerhard Unger at HWA, both good friends of mine. I drive a Mercedes-Benz powered car so that keeps that there, but that's it.
Talking to Force India deputy team principal Bob Fernely, he said it's going to be very difficult to keep both you and Nico at the team over the next few years. Has looking at other teams come into your thought process?
It's always something for any driver to think about because they always want to win races and whatever. But my commitment is to Force India and I will do my utmost to represent them and equally do the best for the team and the best for myself because you want results. For the future, nobody knows. This team is young, it's ambitious, it's got new investment going forward ... could be here for years, I'm very comfortable here and I enjoy it. It's like a small family network for me.
Fifth in the constructors' was the target being put forward at the launch. I know you've only done two days in the car, but is that realistic?
Too early to say ... too early to say.
Any personal targets?
Very open. As long as we're going forward it's OK.
Fifth is the target for the team, but do you think it might also be the ceiling considering the budget of the top four teams compared to yours?
Everybody has to start somewhere. It wasn't long ago that Red Bull weren't where they are now. I'm not saying that's going to be achieved, but you've got to be fairly comfortable in the direction you're heading. People would probably have said three years ago that we wouldn't be where we are now, but look where we are. We're all motivated to try and do the best job possible, whether that happens or not is another question.
They are genuinely interested to come along, obviously we're a very close family and it's nice to have the support. They came down before the test and did some training and they wanted to get some ideas for different training and we've done that. It gives them a bit of an idea about what's happening in Formula One for their racing and what they're doing.
So do you bounce ideas off them?
I think they see what's happening here, really. There's always something you can learn and equally when I go to their racing you get a different idea of how they do it.