An audacious gamble to go long - very
long - on a first set of medium compound Pirelli tyres at the Circuit Gille Villeneuve on Sunday paid off handsomely for Paul di Resta in what was Force India's 100th Grand Prix event.
Di Resta had been having a rollercoaster ride of it in Montreal: topping the wet first practice session on Friday morning that left him believing a podium position was within reach, then hit by an electrical issue that truncated his afternoon practice and which led into a nightmare qualifying session on Saturday that saw him fail to progress from Q1 for the second race weekend in succession.
That left him starting Sunday's Canadian GP from 17th place on the grid and it looked like a mighty task to get anywhere near the points. The only thing that Force India
could do for hi was try a strategy contrary to almost everyone else on the grid - slap a set of medium tyres on and see how far he could stretch them out in the hope that he could somehow pull off a one-stop strategy.
Which is exactly what he did: not even in their wildest hopes did the team dare dream that the Scot would be able to make the tyres last for 56 of the 70-lap race in Canada without his pace falling off, but that's just what he did.
"The tyres lasted very well, the lap times were competitive and the team told me it was my decision about when to make my stop," said di Resta after bringing the car home in seventh place. "As soon as I felt the tyres starting to drop off, I came in. Then it was a case of looking after the supersofts for the final few laps."
"I don't think anybody thought there were 56 laps in those tyres, but he pulled it out of the bag," said a clearly impressed Force India
deputy team principal Bob Fernley. "Paul showed his fighting spirit with a remarkable drive to seventh with just one stop. The car had great pace and he looked after his medium compound tyres extremely well."
"To finish the race in seventh having started 17th is a great result and a top job by the team," added di Resta. "It also feels good to come back so strong after a difficult qualifying session.
"I didn't manage to get any long run data on Friday so it feels extra sweet to make this one-stop strategy work with a very long stint on the mediums," he said.
With di Resta's team mate Adrian Sutil
also finishing in the points with tenth place in Montreal, it was a very good way for the team to celebrate its centenary participation in F1.
“It's great to see both our cars in the points at our 100th Grand Prix. It brings our tally to 51 points and strengthens our fifth position in the championship," said Fernley. "The car remains competitive and we can hopefully carry our form into our local race at Silverstone at the end of the month."