Prioritizing race over qualifying pays off for Di Resta

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Paul di Resta said his team’s decision to concentrate on its race performance at the expense of qualifying was vindicated by their result in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Force India were the only team to successfully complete the race using a single pit stop for each of its cars. Di Resta claimed sixth and team mate Adrian Sutil was tenth.

“It’s a great feeling to finish sixth and make the one-stop strategy work,” said Di Resta.

“We had opted to set the car up more for the race and it really paid off today. There were times when we had to be very quick and times when we had to manage the pace and look after the tyres.”

“Towards the end of the race I was battling with Fernando [Alonso] and Lewis [Hamilton], but it was impossible to hold Fernando back because he was on much fresher soft tyres. Lewis was on the mediums so I just focussed on getting clean exits from the hairpin and the chicane leading onto the long straights, and was able to stay ahead.”

Force India have halted their slide in the last two races and have shored up their points buffer against a resurgent Sauber.

“The eight points are just what we needed and everybody in the team deserves credit for the big effort that has gone in this week,” added Di Resta. “That’s two strong weekends in a row and we will move to Austin determined to keep up the momentum.”

F1 2017 driver review: Lance Stroll

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Team: Williams

Car No.: 18
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 1
Best Finish: P3 (Azerbaijan)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 40
Championship Position: 13th

Lance Stroll’s arrival in Formula 1 at the start of the 2017 was a far from smooth one despite a significant private testing program being undertaken in the months leading up to his grand prix debut.

Even with older hand Felipe Massa at Williams, Stroll looked uneasy behind the wheel of the FW40 car through the opening run of races as he failed to reach the checkered flag in any of his first three starts.

The Canadian was left deflated after his first decent effort in Bahrain was cut short after a clash with Carlos Sainz Jr., calling it his “rock bottom” moment – but things would turn around on home soil.

Stroll produced a stunning fight through the field to take an excellent P9 in Canada, proving his talent seen in Formula 3 the previous year and shushing many of his critics.

Better would follow two weeks later in Baku when Stroll became the youngest rookie in F1 history to score a podium, dodging a crazy race to finish third. It would have been second had he not lost a drag race against Valtteri Bottas to the line.

Stroll’s form then fluctuated greatly. He was sublime on occasion, the best examples being Monza, when he started a remarkable P2 on the grid and ended as the top midfielder in P7, or Mexico where he took a brilliant sixth.

But there were too many weekends he was a little anonymous. Sure, Williams didn’t have the best car this year, but perhaps a little better was expected from Stroll.

2018 will be an even bigger challenge as he looks to the lead the team when a new teammate arrives – and at only 19, it is a lot to handle. Nevertheless, there are positive signs to be found; you just need to look for them a little.

Season High: Taking a shock podium in Baku after dodging chaos in front.

Season Low: A poor opening two races in Australia and China.