Sahara Force India team boss Vijay Mallya has praised Paul di Resta for the way in which he has rebounded from a tough end to the 2012 season to spearhead the team's challenge so far this year.
Di Resta came with a matter of laps of a maiden F1 podium in Bahrain and sits eighth in the championship standings going into the Spanish Grand Prix this weekend – having scored in three of the four races run so far.
The Scot will seek to maintain his form when the European season gets underway and Mallya said he was impressed by the way in which his driver had performed this season after the difficult way last year drew to a close.
“The performances of Paul Di Resta confirms just how much he has matured as a driver,” he said. “He's delivering consistently every week and we are reaping the rewards of all his hard work. He suffered a difficult end to the 2012 season, but he's shown great mental strength and determination to regroup over the winter and recapture his best form. He's pushing the team on and demanding the best from everyone, which is what we need.
“Having come so tantalisingly close to the podium with Paul last time out, we head to Barcelona full of optimism. The hard work everyone is putting in is paying off and we hope to see the rewards this coming weekend.”
Di Resta himself admitted that he was pleased with the way in which the season had started and said he was hopeful that the Silverstone-based squad would be able to challenge at Catalunya.
“We've got to feel very happy with how things are going and I want to congratulate everybody in the team,” he said. “We took a very sensible approach to the winter and focussed on understanding the key areas that drive performance, which seems to have paid off. It's important to pick up good points early in the season against our competitors and to be ahead of McLaren after four races is a credit to the team and a nice feeling. Of course we want to be on the podium and it was very close in Bahrain, but I'm sure it will come soon enough.
“The car is performing well, especially in the heat, and we were also strong in the cooler conditions of China – so that's a good sign. The key is making sure you find the right operating window whatever the conditions because that's what makes the difference. We need to keep doing what we're doing, but at the same time we know the return to Europe always sees every team bring more upgrades. Hopefully we can stay fighting with the big teams and keep picking up the points.”