April 21st, 2013 (F1Plus / Chris Cameron-Dow) - Paul Di Resta equalled his career-best result by finishing fourth at the 2013 Bahrain Grand Prix. His previous best result was fourth at the 2012 Singapore Grand Prix. On the other side of the Force India garage, however, the race did not go so well as Adrian Sutil picked up a puncture on the opening lap after contact with Felipe Massa and lost too much time crawling back to the pits to have a chance of scoring points.
In the early stages of the race, Di Resta was quick and aggressive. He made a good start and then passed Nico Rosberg decisively and was poised to pass Alonso before the Ferrari driver peeled off into the pits to have a stuck DRS repaired. Di Resta did not have the pace to challenge Vettel at the front, but it soon became clear that he was on a two-stop strategy and therefore in tyre-preservation mode for much of the race. In the closing stages, Di Resta was running third but had a flying Romain Grosjean chasing him down after the Frenchman made a late pitstop for medium tyres. The Lotus was too quick on fresh option tyres for Di Resta to have any chance of defending, and the Scot had to settle for fourth place. It was a strong, focused drive that Di Resta described as "probably my strongest Grand Prix."
Sutil's race was over almost before it started. Minor contact with Felipe Massa in turn four on the opening lap cut through Sutil's right front tyre, which meant he had to limp back to the pits for most of a lap and lost an enormous amount of time in the process. It was immediately clear that points were unlikely, but Sutil put in the maximum possible effort in pursuit of recovery.Adam Cooper (@adamcooper) pointed out on Twitter that Sutil was the quickest driver over the last 55 laps of the race, which shows just how quick the 2013 Force India car is.
It is obvious that Force India have produced a strong car, capable of looking after tyres and delivering lap times on different types of circuits. The challenge for the team now is development. If they can keep up with the rate of progress of the front-runners, then podiums and potentially more are likely this season.
Quotes from the Force India team after the race:
Paul Di Resta: “It’s great to round off the fly-away races with a fourth place and a race that was probably my strongest Grand Prix. The podium was very close, but with our strategy we were always going to be vulnerable at the end of the race – especially to Grosjean who had two new sets of medium tyres. I had a good start to the race, a strong opening stint and we showed our true speed today, but ultimately fourth place was the maximum that was possible. We will get on the podium one day, hopefully soon, but for now we can be very happy with the points we’ve scored today. A big thanks to the whole team because it’s been an excellent weekend and I feel we managed to get 100% out of the car.”
Adrian Sutil: “It’s disappointing to get a puncture in a race that looked so promising. My start was clean and I was racing Massa going into turn four. I was on the outside; I gave him a lot of space but he was off-line and made contact with my front right tyre. I don’t know what he did exactly but I had a puncture immediately. I had to pit and lost a lot of time, which ended my chance of scoring points. I had amazing pace in the race and I just kept my head down to try and recover something from the race, but I had lost too much with the puncture. But I’m happy for the team and fourth place for Paul gives us more points. There are many more races to come so we will keep focused and next time score points with both cars.”
Dr Vijay Mallya, Team Principal and Managing Director: “A tremendous job by the team and a wonderful drive by Paul saw us come within a whisker of the podium today. Although we missed out on third, the twelve points scored keep us up in fifth place in the Championship and give us every reason to be optimistic for the coming races. Of course, we could have achieved so much more had Adrian not picked up a puncture on lap one. The contact with Massa proved very costly because Adrian’s race pace was on a par with Paul’s and we should have brought both cars home in the points. We will focus on the positives and enjoy this fourth place, which has confirmed the pace of the car and shown once again that we can race up at the front and beat some of the top teams.”