Bathgate’s Paul di Resta threw off the disappointment of yet another mistake by his Sahara Force India team to storm through from 21st to ninth in the British Grand Prix.
The 27-year-old Scot had initially qualified fifth with a blistering lap round the ultra-fast Northamptonshire circuit, but three hours after the session ended, his times were erased after his car was found to be 2kg below the legal minimum weight for both car and driver of 642kg.
“It really was a shock,” admitted Di Resta, whose team had also made serious errors during qualifying in the previous two grands prix in Monaco and Montreal.
“It was my best-ever qualifying performance and with only the two Mercedes and two Red Bulls in front of me, I knew we were in with a real chance of battling for good world championship points and, hopefully, even a maiden F1 podium finish.
“From the highs of executing a fully committed, high speed and pretty well faultless single qualifying lap round the ultra-fast Silverstone circuit, I was suddenly left facing another low.
“What did that mean? Well my times from qualifying were removed from the records, and I was relegated to the back of the grid.
“From fifth on the grid, and a possible podium; to 21st and another recovery drive. It certainly wasn’t what I’d been expecting.
“The team is still trying to get to the bottom of what caused the loss of weight. But there’s one thing for sure: it won’t happen again.”
And once again, in the face of adversity, Di Resta delivered. By the end of the opening lap, he was up to 18th; by lap 16 of the scheduled 52, he was 11th. At the end of lap 30, he was 10th.
The Scot then found himself in a brilliant wheel-to-wheel dice with the Mercedes of former world champion and pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton.
The Englishman had been leading before his rear left tyre exploded on lap eight. It was the first of four left-rear tyres to puncture dramatically: Felipe Massa’s Ferrari, the Toro Rosso of Jean-Eric Vergne and Sergio Perez’s McLaren all suffered the same fate.
Di Resta’s car then suffered damage to its nose as he eased passed the Sauber of his team-mate from last year, Nico Hulkenberg.
“We opted to pit during the final safety car period for new tyres and to have a new nose fitted: it was the right decision, but the delay cost me three positions,” Di Resta continued.
“In reality, seventh, and even possibly sixth, could have been on the cards. In the end, I finished just 1.6 secs behind my Sahara Force India team-mate Adrian Sutil in seventh and he started the race from sixth on the grid.”
The race was won by Hamilton’s team-mate Nico Rosberg. The German became the first Mercedes driver to win the British Grand Prix since Stirling Moss did so at Aintree back in 1955.
Rosberg, who also won earlier this season at Monaco, faced a late threat to his win when he was called before race stewards for not slowing enough when yellow “caution” flags were being waved.
Though his win was only 0.7 secs ahead of the Red Bull of Aussie Mark Webber, the German received nothing more than a reprimand.
With Fernando Alonso bringing his Ferrari home in third, the Spaniard was able to close the gap on world championship leader Sebastian Vettel to 21 points. The Red Bull driver was forced to retire ten laps from the end when his car suffered gearbox problems.
After the race Hamilton, who recovered from last place after his enforced pitstop following his puncture to finish fourth, launched a blistering attack on tyre supplier Pirelli.
“The safety is the biggest issue,” said Hamilton. “It’s just unacceptable. We had that tyre test to develop and improve the tyres to stop that from happening, and after that tyre test they didn’t do anything.
“Someone could have crashed. I was thinking behind the safety car that it’s only when someone gets hurt that something will be done about it.”
When asked if he would talk to Pirelli or the FIA about the events of Silverstone, Hamilton said any such conversations would be pointless.
“I think it’s a waste of time talking to any of them at the moment,” he said. “They can see what happened today. They have to react to it.”