Paul di Resta is confident that Force India can take the fight to McLaren in the second half of the season as the two teams scrap over fifth place in the championship heading to Belgium this weekend.
Force India have enjoyed their best-ever start to a Formula One season, consistently scoring in the first ten races to lead McLaren by two points. However, they did enjoy a bigger lead heading to the German Grand Prix at the beginning of July, but the changes made to the Pirelli tires appear to have stunted their progress. For di Resta, this could explain the change in fortunes.
“It’s the only thing that’s changed and the only thing we can point the finger at,” the Scottish driver explained. “The tire has changed, yes, and obviously key to Hungary was making sure they worked and we didn’t optimize that, but we optimized it before that, and that is why I believe there is no reason why the car can’t get it working again.
To make matters worse, di Resta believes that the changes have suited McLaren. The British team has performed below expectations this year having only finished a season-best of P5 which – for a team that came a comfortable third in last year’s championship – is highly disappointing. di Resta acknowledged their prowess, but he is sure that Force India can continue to fight for fifth in the constructors’ without easily succumbing to their rivals.
“You have to have the respect for McLaren and what they are, their car has transformed since changing to the other construction of the tire, but equally when our car is working well we can be in front of them I think, and that purely depends on how we get our grips to where we are and if we can solve the issues that have been hampering us over the last couple of grands prix, but having said that it can very quickly switch the other way.
“We’ll be working hard to try and do it we won’t give the position easy but they are a team that won this race last year as well. We’re gonna have to be working at the top of our game to stay where we are and that is still the goal coming into the second half of the year, to stay in front of them.”
Spa-Francorchamps is a track that has traditionally suited Force India with Giancarlo Fisichella claiming the team’s only pole position at the 2009 Belgian Grand Prix before going on to finish second, which remains the team’s best-ever result.