Fernley: Paul di Resta a future champion

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Force India’s deputy team principal Bob Fernley has said that he believes Paul di Resta has got what it takes to become Formula One world champion.

di Resta’s F1 career has been rather quiet so far, but his fourth place finish at last weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix has been regarded by many as the British driver’s best performance in the sport. Off the back of this, Fernley has heaped praise upon his driver.

“Absolutely, there is no reason why he and a number of others would not have as well, but certainly Paul could,” Fernley told Sky Sports when asked whether di Resta could be a world champion. However, he extended this to many other drivers on the grid, suggesting that it is largely down to the car which teams provide their drivers with.

“Probably at least fifty per cent of the drivers on the grid today, given the right car and package, would be a world champion, because they are some quality drivers.”

Fernley also spoke about the inter-team rivalry at Force India, which nearly spilled over in China as di Resta made contact with teammate Adrian Sutil. Regardless, Fernley believes that it is a good thing to have this kind of competition.

“It is the perfect scenario for us.

“In 2011 when Paul and Adrian were fighting each other, it was equally close, but what we wanted to do was keep the pressure on Paul actually because each driver needs to be performing at their limit. They need to give us quite a tough time and we have to set it up that they are having a tough time.”

Force India has made its best start to a Formula One season in 2013, scoring 26 points in the first four races, and di Resta  currently sits a strong 8th in the drivers’ championship. If he can keep up this good form, the Scot could be in line for a seat with a bigger team in the future.

F1 2017 driver review: Max Verstappen

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Max Verstappen

Team: Red Bull Racing
Car No.: 33
Races: 20
Wins: 2
Podiums (excluding wins): 2
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 1
Points: 168
Laps Led: 133
Championship Position: 6th

Max Verstappen rise as a once-in-a-generation talent continued through the 2017 Formula 1 season, even if reliability issues meant we were made to wait for his best form to arrive.

Verstappen stole the show in a wet-dry Chinese Grand Prix by charging from 16th to seventh in the opening lap before ultimately finishing third for Red Bull, yet he would not grace the podium again until the Malaysian Grand Prix at the start of October.

A combination of power unit problems and on-track clashes saw Verstappen retire from seven of the 12 races in the intermittent period, with incidents in Spain and Austria being avoidable.

Perhaps most embarrassing of all was his stoppage due to a power unit failure in front of a grandstand swathed in orange at the Belgian Grand Prix, a race tens of thousands of Dutch fans had attended to cheer Verstappen on.

But when Verstappen got things right, it was – as he frequently quoted – simply, simply lovely. There was plenty left in the tank, as proven by his sheer domination of the races in Malaysia and Mexico as he took the second and third wins of his career.

Perhaps even more impressive was Verstappen’s victory over Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo in the qualifying head-to-head battle this year, an area the Australian has traditionally been strong in. Verstappen outqualifed his teammate 13-7 – it wasn’t even close…

All in all, Verstappen once again proved that on his day, he is one of the finest talents to grace F1 in recent years. With the right car underneath him next year, a title fight is certainly possible and will be the target – but there is always room for improvement.

And that is the scary part: Verstappen is only going to get better and better.

Season High: Dominating in Malaysia after an early pass on Lewis Hamilton.

Season Low: Crashing out on Lap 1 in Austria.