Di Resta back in the game
Force India driver recovers set-up and qualifies sixth as a result
By Mike Wise in Singapore. Last Updated: 22/09/12 11:47pm
Paul di Resta said he had to recover from a wrong turn set-up-wise in order to qualify sixth on the grid for Sunday's Singapore Grand Prix.
The Force India driver lines up five places ahead of Nico Hulkenberg despite struggling in comparison with his team-mate during Saturday's earlier final practice session.
Di Resta could then be heard on the radio complaining about the handling of his car but revealed a return to the set-up he had started out with on Friday put him back on the right path.
"Alarm bells were ringing in FP3. We had quite a good car yesterday but struggled quite badly in FP3. On every run we were the best part of a second off Nico. Fundamentally there was something not right," he said.
"We hadn't changed much; we'd obviously changed a few bits on the car on race spec. and gone back to baseline for qualifying. (That) obviously dramatically improved it and put us a step in front of the game.
"Where we were yesterday was close, we were able to regain our confidence and work to improve each time we were on track.
"I saved the best lap to the end, which was good, and always found little bits as the track improved."
Di Resta therefore enjoyed a strong qualifying performance for the second race running, having gone fifth fastest at Monza two weeks ago before being penalised for a gearbox change.
On that occasion di Resta managed to make headway in the race, finishing eighth, and while he starts ahead of Mark Webber's Red Bull and the Lotus of Romain Grosjean, the Scot is confident he won't lose ground to Mercedes pair Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg.
They line up ninth and 10th respectively after electing not to set times in the final session, hence handing themselves a free tyre choice for the race.
"It's a street track and obviously you have to get yourself in a good position hopefully out of the trouble. Anything can happen but we've put ourselves in a good position to score some points," di Resta said.
"We have been a bit stronger than Mercedes this weekend in general up until now. Whether that will carry on is another thing, but they chose not to run. But I think we've got a good enough car to stay in front of them."
Force India also performed well on the last street circuit F1 visited at Valencia in June but managing tyre degradation will be even more important during Sunday's gruelling 61-lap race owing to the soft and supersoft tyre choice.
Di Resta was heartened by their long-run performance on Friday, not to mention his own performance in last year's race, in which he finished sixth after running a two-stop strategy.
"We didn't seem too bad in terms of deg and long-run performance yesterday, I would say it's been slightly improved from where it has been in recent races," he added.
"Keeping them alive is going to be key. We've obviously experienced the temperatures last year and they probably held up better to do the job. The tyres are slightly softer and hopefully we've got control of it."
He added: "In making the best of what you've got, I think yesterday we saw a slight improvement in terms of how we held on in the long run, relative to where our performance was at the beginning of it."