Tough for Di Restaposted in F126 | 06 | 2011

    WHILE RED BULL'S Sebastian Vettel won his sixth race in eight grands prix, Bathgate's Paul di Resta was left reflecting on a strategy by his Force India team which left him trailing home 14th in the European Grand Prix in Valencia.

    The 25-year-old Scot (pictured during the European Grand Prix), who started the race from 12th on the grid, had moved up to 11th by the end of the opening lap having muscled his way past the Williams of Rubens Barrichello.

    But Di Resta's race, which had already been compromised on Friday when the team's reserve drive Nico Hulkenberg badly damaged the Scot's race car in the first Free Practice session, rapidly unravelled despite diving the wheels off the car.

    Consistently late pitstops by the team left Di Resta struggling with a car which was lacking in grip as the Pirelli tyres went off and he finished the race locked in a four-way battle for 14th.

    "It's definitely not the race I was looking for, nor expecting," Di Resta, who now heads to Silverstone for the next round in a just under a fortnight, admitted. “I’m not sure that we got the strategy quite right today.

    See more photographs of Paul in action in Valencia

    "There where a couple of laps in the first stint where my tyres had gone off and we didn’t stop early enough. We made up for that during the second stop, when I jumped (Nick) Heidfeld and Barrichello, but I lost out again at my final stop.

    "It’s tough when the tyres go off because it costs you around two-and-a-half seconds per lap, which is a lot when the fight in the middle of the pack is so close.

    "Even without those issues it would have been tough to score points today because overtaking was more difficult that I thought it would be, even with the DRS zone. So it hasn’t been the best of weekends, but I’ll put that behind me and look forward to my home race at Silverstone.”

    And the Scot's troubles where highlighted by Force India owner Vijay Mallya.

    “Paul once again delivered a fighting drive, but was unlucky with the way the strategy unfolded," the Indian billionaire explained.

    "It was a reminder that even stopping one lap too late can be very costly in terms of track position, but we're determined to carry our good form into Silverstone, a local circuit for our factory.”

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    "I don't look at the gap, it is a long season," Vettel said. "For sure we have had a phenomenal start to the season. We continue that way, but we have to take every single race as it comes. The target is still to win races.

    "If we have the chance to win then we have to take it. If the day comes and we are not competitive enough, and we are good enough for third, we have to finish third and not seventh.

    "At the moment we all enjoy it. It is incredible the achievement and step the team made in the last two/three years. Every single department got so much professional. We have to keep doing what we do, and stay hungry wanting to win races and wanting to become better and better every time."

    Vettel finished comfortably almost 11 seconds ahead of second-placed Fernando Alonso's Ferrari, with Webber a further 17s adrift in third. But while there it was all smiles at Red Bull and Ferrari, there were grim faces at McLaren.

    Former world champ Lewis Hamilton could only manage fourth, 46.190secs behind Vettel, with team-mate Button sixth, a further 14 seconds back, as the McLaren struggled for pace. Afterwards both drivers united in calling for more performance.

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    "I think we're quite a bit down on downforce," Hamilton stated. "We've not made an upgrade for several weeks now. We've had upgrades, like the front wing for example but rear downforce, we've really been struggling with that."

    He also predicted McLaren could suffer more than most when the exhaust set-up rules are tightened from the next race at Silverstone onwards.

    "I think in the next race we'll really, really struggle," Hamilton warned. "Once we lose the blown exhaust I think we may see some differences there." And Button was quick to agree.

    "We need some good upgrades," he said. "We need to get our heads down and improve the car, the package. Aerodynamically I think we need an improvement for Silverstone because we're not moving forward and that's what we need to be concentrating on."

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    Jim McGill


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