Paul di Resta appeared to be on course for another remarkable result in the Singapore Grand Prix, running in the points after failing to progress past the opening phase of qualifying on Saturday, before crashing out in the closing stages.
The Scot, who has defied a poor grid position on more than one occasion this season, had already gained six places on the opening lap before a long opening stint on the supersoft compound tyre – which saw him run longer than anyone else in the field – pushed him firmly into contention for some points.
Already expecting better performance in race set-up, the Scot was poised to take advantage of his strategy and potentially grab sixth position – and 'best of the rest' honours behind the likes of Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes – when he skated into the tyre wall with seven laps remaining. The incident marked a third straight DNF for the Scot, and five races without points, but he remained at a loss to explain how it happened.
“It's such a shame to come away with nothing to show from a race where we had put ourselves in a position to score some valuable points,” he sighed, “The management of the tyres was good and the overall performance in race conditions was very strong. Even without the safety car we were in good shape and, as a team, we made the right calls and were looking to challenge the train of cars ahead of us in the final few laps. Then I had the incident at turn seven.
“I'm still not sure what happened, but I took the corner the same way as I had done the previous lap and the car went straight on and wouldn't stop. The team is investigating what happened.”
di Resta's misfortune benefited Sahara Force India team-mate Adrian Sutil, who came through to claim the final point for tenth position. The German was alone in opting to start on the harder, medium compound, tyre, but had been unable to make it last any longer than those on the supersofts, and switched to scrubbed sets of the option rubber thereafter.
“It was a tough race and exhausting in the end, so it feels great to come away with a point - it's a small motivation for the whole team,” he reflected, “In the closing laps of the race, I was catching the train of cars in front of me – Perez, Button and Hulkenberg - and thought I had a chance to get ahead of at least one of them but, as soon as I reached the back of the train, my tyres went off.
“In fact, we were all struggling with tyres and I couldn't attack anymore because it felt like driving on ice, so I'm happy to take the point as it's well deserved by the whole team.”
Team principal Vijay Mallya admitted that the result had left his squad with 'mixed feelings'.
“The positive is that Adrian picked up the final point and that's a good effort considering where he started the race,” Mallya noted, “On the other hand, we missed a golden opportunity to score some big points with Paul, who potentially could have finished in sixth place.
“His retirement with seven laps to go proved costly and has not helped us in our battle against McLaren. However, as a team we must focus on the positives of the competitive race pace, good tyre management, and the calls we made with the strategy. Korea in two weeks' time will be a chance to regroup and keep up our fighting spirit.”