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.

Fernando Alonso completes first test with United Autosports

Photo: United Autosports
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Two-time Formula 1 World Champion Fernando Alonso enjoyed his first outing with United Autosports, with whom he will contest the 2018 Rolex 24 at Daytona, in their Ligier JS P217 LMP2 chassis.

The McLaren Formula 1 driver completed the test at Motorland Aragon in Spain alongside co-driver Phil Hanson, who will be a teammate with Alonso at next year’s 24-hour Daytona enduro. Filipe Albuquerque, a former GT class winner at the Rolex 24, was also on hand to help Alonso and the team ahead of Alonso’s first run in an LMP2 car, which comes only a couple days after he made his LMP1 testing debut with Toyota. Albuquerque races with Mustang Sampling Racing in IMSA, but will return to United’s European Le Mans Series program for all but one race in 2018.

“I had a great first test with United Autosports. Obviously, we are on a really tight schedule between now and Daytona, but it was nice to jump in the car for the first time,” said Alonso, who will rejoin the team at the official Roar Before the 24 test on January 5-7.

Alonso added, “There’s quite a few switches and things to study so it was important to do this initial shakedown before Daytona, so I could fully learn about the car. I’m happy with everything – the car felt great and the team were fantastic. The atmosphere here is wonderful, like a big family, so today has been amazing. I cannot wait for Daytona.”

Team owner Zak Brown, who also serves as executive director of McLaren Technology Group and helps lead the McLaren Formula 1 effort, shared Alonso’s enthusiasm and was not surprised he was able to acclimate himself relatively quickly.

“Fernando’s first test with United Autosports went awesome as expected. He is a world champion and it is a pleasure to have him in our car,” he said of Alonso’s debut with the team.

Alonso is currently schedule to contest the Rolex 24 with the aforementioned Hanson and McLaren test driver Lando Norris.