Paul di Resta produces great drive to finish P4

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Paul di Resta believes that he had his “strongest ever race” in Bahrain today to finish 4th, equaling his best result in the sport.

The Force India driver started the race in 5th, and after a good start he was up to P2 once Fernando Alonso, Nico Rosberg and Felipe Massa had fallen back.

On a two-stop strategy, di Resta was battling with Kimi Raikkonen throughout the race after leader Sebastian Vettel stormed ahead at the front, but he could not stay in front following their second and final stops.

Just as di Resta looked set to score Force India’s second podium finish in their history, Romain Grosjean made a late switch to soft tires in order to pass the British driver with a few laps remaining. The battle between Lewis Hamilton and Mark Webber further back meant that di Resta then went unchallenged to finish in P4, matching his result from the 2012 Singapore Grand Prix.

“I was always going to be vulnerable on that strategy, but it was probably the strongest race I’ve had,” di Resta explained to Maurice Hamilton.

Team owner Vijay Mallya was quick to offer di Resta his congratulations.

“Paul di Resta of Sahara Force India narrowly misses podium. Finishes 4th in Bahrain F1 Grand Prix.Drove superbly but lost out to newer tyres,” Mallya tweeted soon after the race.

“Sahara Force India now has 26 championship points frm just 4 races. Best season start ever.”

Indeed, this is the best start the team has ever made, and they currently lie 6th in the constructors’ championship ahead of McLaren, Toro Rosso and Sauber.

di Resta’s performance was one of the stand-out drives, and with Adrian Sutil lapping quickly at the back, the team could have secured a strong double-score had the German driver not been hit on the first lap of the race.

Marco Andretti confident that fewer tests won’t hurt Andretti Autosport

Photo: IndyCar
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A small point of debate around the 2018 aero kit has been the manufacturer test days that took place through the Fall of 2017 and into the beginning of 2018. Chiefly, the debate has centered around teams who hadn’t participated in those manufacturer test days and if they’re starting the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season at a disadvantage as a result.

Team Penske, Ed Carpenter Racing, and A.J. Foyt Racing completed test days for Chevrolet, with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and Chip Ganassi Racing doing so for Honda.

That left teams like Andretti Autosport out of the mix, with some voicing concerns as a result.

However, in a press conference during testing at ISM Raceway last weekend, Marco Andretti explained that he thinks Andretti Autosport should be able to catch up on development, citing the team’s resources – they’re the only IndyCar team with four full-time cars in their stable – and the fact that everyone is still adapting to the new kit.

“I feel like it’s early enough days that, yes, we can catch up,” Andretti said at ISM Raceway. “When there is anything new, a new car, new aero kit, at-track days are huge. We can sim all these things we want. To really get out there and confirm what we’re learning back at the shop is another thing.”

Ryan Hunter-Reay during testing at ISM Raceway. Photo: IndyCar

Andretti continued, “Yeah, I don’t think we should look at it like we’re behind the eight ball. With a four-car team, that’s where we can use it to our benefit. So far so good.”

Teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay, echoed Andretti’s sentiments, adding that while the situation is not perfect, they will need to adapt to it in order to remain competitive.

“Any time you have a new car, to put it into perspective, we’re on track three days on a road course before we get to (the season open in St. Petersburg). That’s a very short amount of time. It’s obviously not ideal, but we’re just going to lace up our boots and get on with it. That’s all you can do.”

Andretti Autosport will have one more team test, at Sebring International Raceway later on in February, before the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

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