Paul di Resta has admitted that it is unlikely that Sahara Force India will be able to better its current seventh place in the F1 constructors' championship, despite there being two races still to run on the 2012 schedule.
The team, which finished sixth overall last season, has been embroiled in a battle to retain the place with Sauber for much of the year, but trails the Swiss squad by 29 points with just the US and Brazilian grands prix remaining. Although there are potentially 86 points on the table for a brace of 1-2 finished, di Resta is aware that Force India is unlikely to be a podium contender, let alone racewinners, even though he is confident that seventh place is safe.
“I think, under normal circumstances, you'd probably say Sauber are out of reach,” the Scot conceded, “Williams looked good in Abu Dhabi, but I think we're in a strong enough position to defend from them.”
This weekend's US Grand Prix is the first to take place at the all-new Circuit of the Americas in Texas, which could potentially throw up a few surprises for the teams. di Resta, however, believes that the facility will follow the trend set by other recent newcomers, meaning that the status quo remains.
“Austin will be an unknown, but it's a new track, so it's likely to be similar to Abu Dhabi, with new tarmac and a smooth surface,” he mused, “I've seen some maps of the circuit, but the main preparation will come from my simulator session on the Monday of race week, so I'll arrive in America with it fresh in my mind.”
Team-mate Nico Hulkenberg has already had a chance to sample the Austin circuit on the simulator, and sees nothing unduly threatening about the layout.
“It's pretty much an average medium-speed track with a lot of elevation changes,” he commented, “Turns three to six are high-speed with lots of change of direction - a bit like Maggotts and Becketts at Silverstone – but there are some big stops and some low-speed sections towards the end of the lap too. It's pretty much a bit of everything.
The German's race in Abu Dhabi was over almost as soon as it had begun, but he insists that it is already in the past and his focus is fully on Austin.
“To be honest, I'm over it already,” he maintained, “There's no point looking back - when you have a bad race, it just makes you more determined to get back in the car as quickly as possible!”
di Resta could easily have joined his team-mate in an early bath, having also been caught up in the first lap incident, but escaped needing only a tyre change on his car, which had been introduced to the Force India fleet for Yas Marina in a bid to counter handling problems on his previous mount.
“[Abu Dhabi] was an eventful race, and we have to be happy with the points, given the puncture I had on lap one,” the Scot admitted, “I think the chassis change was the right thing to do and definitely improved our performance level. In terms of race pace, the car was strong, I overtook a lot of cars and without the puncture we could definitely have had a stronger day, so there's every reason to believe we can be competitive [in Austin].”