Evolution rather than revolution: that was the mantra from Bathgate’s Paul di Resta as he unveiled the 2013 Mercedes- powered Sahara Force India VJM06 he believes will power him to the first Formula 1 podium of his career.
The 26-year-old, entering his third year as a fully-fledged F1 racer in the world’s most technologically advanced motor-sport championship, lifted the wraps from his new car at Silverstone.
“The big thing for us this year is the rules haven’t changed,” he explained, “so this is an evolution of the car we had last year: it’s not a revolution. Yeah, it looks very similar to last year’s car, but essentially it’s a brand new car from the ground-up – everything is new under the skin. I know the team discussed carrying over big chunks of last year’s car, including the chassis, but decided not to.”
And Di Resta, showing a new-found confidence in front of the media scrum, is in no doubt the new car will be fast enough to compete at the front of the F1 grid.
“It’s no secret, I want to be on the podium, I want to win races,” the Scot, who has attracted backing from TW Steel watches, stated clinically. “We showed on numerous occasions last year that the car is fast. Now we have to build on that.
“I only missed out on a podium at Singapore last year when the safety car came out and scuppered our chances. In the end we had to settle for fourth.
“I’m in no doubt the changes we’ve built into the car for 2013 will make it even faster and more reliable. We’ll definitely be battling at the front of the pack.” And the Scot, who strangely is still waiting to hear who his new team-mate will be – an announcement isn’t expected for at least another fortnight – has settled into the pressurised world of officially being a team leader.
“Yes, there’s obviously a bit more pressure on me,” he continued, “It’s natural that being the senior driver, the team will rely on me. I don’t have a problem with that. There’s obviously pressure to perform. But there’s pressure everywhere in life and I think that’s what gives you adrenalin, and that’s when we, as F1 drivers, perform at our best … under pressure. I don’t think that’s a bad thing.”
Quizzed on his thoughts about who he would like as his new team-mate, Di Resta skilfully played the question with a very straight bat.
“It’s entirely the team’s decision to announce the driver line-up when they feel comfortable,” he explained. “I have always said I want it to be someone who I can work with, develop the team, develop the car, be a good team-mate and understand the big picture behind it.
“It’s not affecting my preparations in any way. I’m fully focused on what I need to achieve. I’m just concentrating on my own job at the end of the day. You work with this person as much as you can until qualifying, and then they kind of become a friendly enemy when we hit the track in Melbourne.
“And that’s what I’m focused on: delivering in the first grand prix at Melbourne on 17 March.”