Paul Di Resta is looking for Force India to make a step forward in performance this weekend after a difficult time in Australia. The Briton qualified down in 15th and although, by his own admission, he struggled for race pace, he managed to salvage a point with tenth.
Di Resta is expecting a challenging weekend weather-wise but is hoping to be challenging for points without the need of good fortune.
“We picked up a point in Melbourne at the very last moment, but we were quite fortunate with the way the last lap unfolded and so it was a nice surprise. As I said after the race, we struggled for consistent race pace in Melbourne and it will be interesting to see if we can improve on that this weekend on a circuit with very different characteristics.”
“It's up there alongside Singapore as one of the toughest races of the year, simply because of the heat and humidity. While you are driving it's not too bad because you get some air flow through the car, but you really feel the heat when you're sitting in the car in the garage with the heat soak from the engine and the tyres. That's when you're most uncomfortable in the cockpit.”
Teammate Nico Hulkenberg had the edge on Di Resta in Australia, outqualifying him by six places, but his race ended early after contact on the first lap. After suffering such disappointment, the German is desperate to make up for it this weekend.
I'm glad that we have back-to-back races because I just want to get back in the car. Seeing how the race developed it was frustrating not to be out there fighting for points, but it wasn't meant to be. I'm now fully focussed on Malaysia because there's no point thinking about what might have been. The way the Melbourne weekend unfolded means that there are still a lot of questions to which I don't know the answers yet. That's because I didn't do the usual heavy fuel runs in the wet on Friday and I didn't get a feel for the performance of the tyres over long runs. All I can do is rely on the feedback from Paul and his race data, and try and learn as much from that.”
“The lap has a nice variation of high and low speed corners and there are two long straights. So you have to find the right balance between top speed and having enough downforce for the corners. The high temperatures and the track surface also result in quite high tyre degradation so it's important to find a race set-up that is quite easy on the tyres.”
Team Principal Dr. Vijay Mallya expects qualifying to be absolutely crucial with the midfield pack being so tight and hopes the car will be more suited to the fast, flowing Sepang circuit.
“What is clear is that all the teams around us are very closely matched in terms of absolute pace and even the smallest mistake in qualifying or the race can cost you several positions. It will be very competitive in the midfield, just as we predicted during the pre-season.”
“Sepang this weekend should be another good indicator of where we stand in the pecking order. I'm optimistic that it will suit the characteristics of the VJM05 more than Melbourne and that we can remain in the hunt for points.”