Paul di Resta pleased to have turned his form around

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Paul di Resta is currently in the form of his life, scoring in three of the opening four races and only just missing out on the podium in Bahrain last time out. The British driver is pleased to have banished his disastrous end-of-season 2012 form and has made a fresh start this season.

“Working with my guys it has been a good fresh start, and it had to be,” di Resta told Autosport. “Nothing could have been any worse than it was going at the end of last year in terms of how difficult it was.”

The Force India driver scored just two points in the final six races of 2012, but he has made a great start to the 2013 season, having scored 20 points in the opening four rounds, marking a great improvement on last season.

“You just have to be man enough and say it was out of my hands. But, we are working away now and we will not be giving up.”

All of di Resta’s hard work paid off in Bahrain as he ran in the top three for most of the race, and even led in parts, but he could not hold on to P3 and had to settle for 4th place come the checkered flag. However, he is confident that there will be more success in 2013.

“I certainly hope this is not the last time that we will be fighting at this end of the grid – and I would hope we can be better.”

After two quiet seasons, many see 2013 as being “make or break” for di Resta, requiring a strong run of results to prove that he is worthy of a seat with a top team. In Bahrain, di Resta showed that he is capable of leading and managing a race, and he only missed out on his first podium thanks to Lotus’ superior strategy. If Force India can continue to perform, we may see a third British driver grace the podium in 2013.

INDYCAR announces several rules and protocol changes for 2018 season

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The 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series opener is still more than six weeks away (March 11, St. Petersburg, Florida).

But several rules and protocol changes that will impact much of the 17-race season were announced today by INDYCAR officials.

First is related to Indianapolis 500 qualifying on May 19-20, one week prior to the 102nd running of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing:

* Driver and entrant points will be awarded to the top nine qualifiers for the race. The pole winner earns nine points and the second-fastest qualifier eight points, with awarded points decreasing by one point for each position down to one point earned by the ninth-fastest qualifier.

* Race points for the Indianapolis 500 and the 2018 season-ending Grand Prix of Sonoma on Sept. 16, will still pay double the normal points for driver and entrant.

There are several other changes on tap for the season, as well.

Here’s a quick rundown of those changes (information courtesy of INDYCAR):

  • The qualifying order for all oval track events except the Indianapolis 500 will be determined by entrant points entering the event. The qualifying order will run in reverse order of entrant points, with the highest in entrant points qualifying last. A car without entrant points will be placed at the front of the qualifying line. If more than one car has no entrant points entering an event, a blind draw among those cars will determine their qualifying order at the front of the line. The qualifying order for the Indianapolis 500 will still be determined by a blind draw.
  • Times have been set for the series-wide open test at ISM Raceway (formerly Phoenix Raceway), scheduled for Feb. 9-10. The track will be open to all cars from 3-6 p.m. and 8-11 p.m. ET both days. INDYCAR has also added four hours of track time on Feb. 8 (3-7 p.m. ET) for rookie drivers to complete their oval test assessments.
  • The series-wide open test at Portland International Raceway will be held Aug. 30, a day prior to the beginning of the Grand Prix of Portland race weekend. Indy car racing returns to the Pacific Northwest for the first time in 11 years in 2018.
  • A schedule change for the month of May will see the INDYCAR garages closed on May 13 – the day after the INDYCAR Grand Prix on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course – to allow teams time off for Mother’s Day. The track will not be open to the public on this day. The garages will be open on May 14, but there will be no on-track activity.
  • Practice for the 2018 Indianapolis 500 begins Tuesday, May 15 on the IMS oval, with the first two hours open for rookie orientation and veteran refreshers, then to all cars. Practice continues May 16-18, ahead of qualifications weekend May 19-20.
  • INDYCAR is granting teams that did not participate in fall manufacturer testing with the universal aero kit an additional half day of private testing. The testing is limited to one car per team and must take place in conjunction with the team’s first on-track test of 2018. Each team is permitted five hours of track time and two sets of Firestone tires.
  • Working with Firestone, INDYCAR has increased the tire allotment at five events. The race weekends at ISM Raceway (Phoenix), the Raceway at Belle Isle Park in Detroit, Texas Motor Speedway, the streets of Toronto and Iowa Speedway will see teams receive an additional set of tires. In a related change, drivers outside the top 10 in the point standings will no longer have an extra set of tires available to them for the opening practice session of a race weekend.
  • The minimum car weight for 2018 has been increased by 10 pounds – to 1,620 pounds for road and street courses and short ovals, 1,590 pounds for superspeedways (both do not include fuel, drink bottle and its contents, driver and driver equivalency weight) – to accommodate for new parts and additional on-car cameras related to the universal aero kit all competitors will run in 2018.