Mallya praises “mature” Di Resta

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Force India team owner Vijay Mallya says driver Paul di Resta has “matured” in his approach after equaling his best career finish in the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Di Resta’s fourth place is the team’s best result of the year so far.

“The performances of Paul Di Resta confirm just how much he has matured as a driver,” said Mallya. “He’s delivering consistently every week and we are reaping the rewards of all his hard work.”

“He suffered a difficult end to the 2012 season, but he’s shown great mental strength and determination to regroup over the winter and recapture his best form. He’s pushing the team on and demanding the best from everyone, which is what we need.”

Di Resta was outshone by former team mate Nico Hulkenberg at the end of last season, who led convincingly at the final race in Brazil while Di Resta crashed out in the closing stages.

He is leading new team mate Adrian Sutil by twenty points to six in the points standings at the moment after Sutil was involved in collisions in the last two races.

But Mallya believes Sutil was not responsible for the incidents: “Adrian Sutil has also shown his speed so far but the luck has not gone his way. The last two races have been very frustrating because he’s been the victim of other drivers’ mistakes.”

“Without these incidents he would surely have scored well in both China and Bahrain. His race pace in Bahrain was remarkable because he was one of the fastest cars on track.”

Ricciardo set to see Dale Jr.’s final Texas ride in two weeks (VIDEO)

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We’ve written before about Daniel Ricciardo’s love of Dale Earnhardt and his love of the No. 3, which Ricciardo has selected as his permanent number for the duration of his Formula 1 career. And additionally, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has offered up the opportunity that one day Ricciardo could race a JR Motorsports car in NASCAR Xfinity Series competition, and Ricciardo has said he’d be up for it.

And although Earnhardt Jr. has only used the No. 3 on a handful of occasions in his career in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Ricciardo knows how much the number means to the NASCAR veteran as he prepares for his final few starts in the Cup Series the tail-end of this year.

After the Mexican Grand Prix next week, Ricciardo is set to stay in North America for the off-week between the Mexican and Brazilian Grands Prix.

In that break, he said he’ll see Earnhardt Jr. in person at the Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway (Sunday, Nov. 5, 2 p.m. ET, NBCSN) to ensure he gets to see him before he retires from full-time competition.

Ricciardo explained his planning during Thursday’s pre-race edition of the NBC Sports Group original digital series Paddock Pass, speaking to NBCSN’s Will Buxton at the United States Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas in Austin.

“Well I’ll see him for the first time in Dallas. I’m gonna go to the NASCAR race in two weeks time at Texas Motor Speedway,” Ricciardo told NBCSN.

“Yeah, so, I gotta see him race before he hangs up the helmet.

“The Earnhardt family is a huge name in motorsport, not only in America but all over the world. Yeah I wish him well.”

Ricciardo is also optimistic he’ll get the chance to do a helmet swap with Earnhardt Jr. at the event.

“Hopefully I get to see him perform well in Texas. I’m gonna try to do a helmet swap with him. We’ll see how we go.”

Stay tuned for more on this over the coming weeks.