Di Resta: We want fifthposted in F103 | 02 | 2012
SIX WEEKS BEFORE jumping into the car in the Melbourne sunshine for the Formula One season opener, Paul di Resta unveiled his Sahara Force India at Silverstone amidst snowflakes today (watch our interview with Paul at today's launch).
On the coldest morning of the year — it was minus seven in the pitlane — the 25-year-old Scot, partnered by German team-mate Nico Hulkenberg, unveiled the new Mercedes-powered VJM05 (watch our video of Paul driving the 2012 Sahara Force India for the first time).
And Di Resta, last year's F1's Rookie of the Year, is in no doubt the new car will help him improve on his 27 world championship points haul from 2011.
"Not only was it my first season in F1 last year, but the whole team started rather slowly," the Scot, wrapped in a tartan scarf to protect himself from the biting cold, explained.
"But by the time we got to to mid-season, we really started to perform, and we started to rack up the points and results.
See more official photos from today's launch
"Everyone at Sahara Force India is still buzzing from finishing sixth in the constructors' championship last year, the best-ever result for the team, and we're determined to carry that momentum into this season.
"We all know it's crucial to have a great start to the year, and that's what we're aiming to put in place for Australia. We have to be aggressive right from the first test."
Di Resta, who has spent the last two years pushing himself through an ever-growing list of new experiences, again finds himself in a unchartered territory this year.
After just 19 grands prix, he is team leader: not only to Hulkenberg — who, remember, started from pole in Brazil for Williams in 2010 — but also new reserve driver, Ferrari Academy driver Jules Bianchi..
And the Scot, tipped by many in the paddock as a future world champ, acknowledges he will be under more pressure this year.
"I'm not a rookie anymore, and of course there's always pressure in any sport, so yeh, I'll be under a little more pressure," Di Resta said.
Scots F1 ace Paul di Resta unveils 2012 race car
"We have a very young and aggressive driver line-up, with me and Nico, and we both want to achieve the best we can in Formula One.
"Thankfully we both get on very well, but as in every F1 team, the first person you want to beat is your team-mate. I know I'll be trying to beat him, and Nico will obviously be trying to beat me.
"But we're working together to develop the car. We head to the first test in Jerez next week ready to start the next phase of development work on the car."
There's no denying Sahara Force India possesses one of the most talented young driver line-ups on the F1 grid. But Di Resta knows the pair must meet team boss, Indian billionaire VJ Mallya's target of finishing fifth this year.
"We were all delighted to finish sixth last year, but we only missed out on beating Renault for fifth by four points," Di Resta continued.
"That's our goal this year, fifth. I don't think Mr Mallya will accept anything less than fifth in the constructors' championship, but it's going to be tough.
"If you look at the grid, all the teams out there are capable of fifth, and I think that battle is going to be as exciting as the battle at the top."
And Di Resta, who won the DTM championship for Mercedes in 2010, was swift to deflect any speculation that Sahara Force India was merely a springboard to one of the bigger teams.
"No way," the global ambassador for whisky company Whyte & Mackay, stated before taking to the track in his new car for a series of installation laps.
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"We're a team which is getting bigger each season, something which was further boosted by the $100m investment by Sahara at the end of last season.
"I know people are quick to try and link me with a move to Mercedes, but at the moment my sole focus is to perform and deliver for Sahara Force India.
"Whatever happens in the future will happen, but unless I continue to produce the best results I can for the team, there will be no future.
"We all know how competitive and cut-throat F1 is, and the minute you stop delivering results, you're history. The only history I'm interested in is the history I write myself."
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