Paul di Resta has described his seventh-place finish in Sunday's Hungarian Grand Prix at the Hungaroring – the best of his fledgling F1 career to-date – as a 'massive' result...and he has forgiven fellow Brit Lewis Hamilton for almost denying him it.
After narrowly missing out on his third Q3 appearance in eleven races this year in qualifying – finding himself pipped by less than six hundredths of a second by Force India F1 team-mate Adrian Sutil – di Resta went on to produce a mature, composed and thoroughly impressive performance 24 hours later, in distinctly treacherous conditions at times that caught out many rather more experienced than him.
One such driver was McLaren-Mercedes star Hamilton – whose father Anthony is di Resta's manager – and when the 2008 world champion spun out of the lead on lap 47, his efforts to rejoin forced the Scot to take to the grass in avoidance.
Hamilton was subsequently penalised for his indiscretion by way of a drive-through penalty that dashed his chances of finishing up on the podium, but with his own race happily unaffected, a beaming di Resta insisted he bore no rancour – as the 25-year-old F1 rookie celebrated his first points finish since he took the chequered flag tenth in the Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang back in April.
“It's a massive thing for me,” he enthused, after running out-of-fuel on the slowing-down lap. “What's happened in the last three races has been way out of my control, and there were definitely points up for grabs in all three of them. I'm very happy with seventh place.
“It was quite a mixed race with rain at the beginning, but I made a good start and felt comfortable in the conditions. Then it was a matter of which tyres to choose. We went to super-softs for the middle two stints, and then ended the race on the 'Primes'. We lost a little bit in the strategy; probably the middle stint wasn't as good as it should have been and we lost track position at the last stop, but at the end, when the tricky conditions came I was able to fight my way back through.
“Thankfully, I saw [Hamilton] quite early. I saw as I approached the chicane that he'd had a bit of a moment. I was surprised he did what he did, but at the same time, there was time for me to take action. I can understand what he was trying to do, and there's no hard feelings. I've spoken to Lewis about it, and he said he just didn't see me – but if it had cost us a lot of points, then it would have been a hard one to take.
“We were definitely quicker than the guys behind, and [at the end] it was just a case of bringing the car home and making sure there was enough fuel on-board. It's certainly a fantastic feeling to get back into the points. Finishing seventh is the best way to respond after a series of races where, for various reasons, we didn't get the results that were possible. It's nice to go into the summer break with a smile on my face, having scored points that are so important for our position in the championship.”
Whilst di Resta tallied six markers for both himself and Force India in the team's quest to stave off Scuderia Toro Rosso behind and wrest sixth position away from Sauber in the constructors' standings, Sutil was less fortunate, winding up two laps down in a lowly and distant 14th after finding himself caught up in the opening lap confusion and going the wrong way in a tyre choice gamble later on.