Paul di Resta says he is staying realistic about his aims as the Scot prepares to make his F1 debut this weekend in Australia.
The reigning DTM champion moves into a Force India race seat for 2011 having held the role of test and reserve driver, having taken the drive vacated by Tonio Liuzzi after the Italian was released from his contract ahead of schedule.
After a solid pre-season with the new VJM04, di Resta goes into his first F1 race being tipped to impress by many in the sport but he insisted he was taking a more cautious approach about what to expect on track.
“I am very excited obviously, but it is a strange feeling as the first race was cancelled and everything was prepared for that,” he said. “But the last few weeks have been pretty seamless and I am fully prepared for the race in Australia. I enjoyed the track last year and Melbourne is a great city.
“I am open minded and will be concentrating on performance, getting the best out of the car on the Friday and Saturday to see what areas we need to improve as a team for the race. As for my personal expectations I am going to be realistic and gauge how it goes over the weekend and focus on the job in hand.”
Team-mate Adrian Sutil also urged caution ahead of the season opener as he admitted the team needs to find more speed from the VJM04 as it continues to understand the developments made over the winter to incorporate the latest F1 regulations.
“We did a lot of testing in general and a good deal of tyre work as this is the most important element for us to understand,” he said. “We have a reliable car, which is positive, and this will help us during the first few races. But we still need to look for more speed and we require a little more time to understand the developments and aero side of the car. The first few races may be a little tough in that respect, but for sure we shall pick up our race pace soon.
“I hope that I will be able to finish the race as last year the gearbox let us down. It is always a good feeling to finish the first race, as you then know that the season has really started. It was a crazy race in Australia last year when the rain came in; I think only ten cars made it to finish. This is also why I think it is so important to finish the race in Melbourne - there are usually points to be won if you see the chequered flag.”