F1 rookie Paul di Resta has admitted that he is looking forward to the resumption of the 2011 season as he looks to return to the points after scoring in two of his first three outings with the Force India team.
The Scot finished tenth in both the Australian and Malaysian grands prix, but could only manage 15th last time out in China after struggling with tyre wear towards the end of his two-stop race, and will be facing an uphill task this weekend as he tackles the Istanbul Park circuit for the first time. Despite that, however, di Resta is confident that he can make the VJM04 a threat for points once again.
"It was nice to have a break after China and I've been able to recharge my batteries before the European season starts," he reflected, as the first three-week break of the campaign comes to an end, "Racing at Istanbul will be a new experience for me because I didn't take part in Friday practice last year and I've never driven the track, so all I have to go on is the simulator work I've carried out in preparation for the event."
While he had limited experience of the first three venues of the season, di Resta still managed to match seasoned team-mate Adrian Sutil, and sits tied with the German on two points as the campaign returns to Europe.
"I think the season so far has gone pretty well - very positive in terms of our performance from a team point of view," he confirmed, "We know that we have work to do in terms of outright speed, but we've definitely maximised our strengths. We understand the car better now and that's where we have made big gains from winter testing."
Team principal Dr Vijay Mallya added his voice to others that have praised di Resta for his impressive start to life as a full-time F1 driver, and echoed the Scot's belief that Force India has started the season on a positive footing.
"I think that overall we can be pleased with our start to the season," the Indian claimed, "To have points on the board and a car that is capable of qualifying in the top ten means we are well placed to build on our competitiveness as we begin the European season.
"I'm very proud of both our drivers, too. Paul has driven superbly and has adapted very quickly to F1 and, combined with Adrian's speed and experience, I see no reason why we cannot challenge for points at every race this year. Plus, we have some promising aerodynamic upgrades in the pipeline, which should make a significant difference to the performance of the car in the coming races."
Indeed, in common with many of its rivals, Force India will bring a first significant upgrade for its car to Turkey, where di Resta and Sutil will evaluate a new front wing design during practice as part of the VJM04's aero development programme. Although the part is unlikely to be used in either qualifying or the race, it is seen as an important step for later in the season.
"The task now is developing the car and the updates we have coming look interesting, so I'm excited to see how it goes," Sutil commented, "It feels like ages since the last race, but it was good to have a short break to think about our start to the season, to analyse all the data and to relax a bit.
"In many ways, the first three races were better than expected, as we scored points and were always quite close to the top ten. As a team, I think we did a good job and we've shown we have pretty solid reliability. For this weekend, I'm looking forward to racing in Istanbul. I enjoy going there, and I think we will be quite competitive - once again, the goal is to score points."