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.

X44 Racing win 2022 Extreme E championship as Abt Cupra score first race victory

2022 Extreme E Uruguay
Extreme E
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Abt Cupra Racing’s Nasser Al-Attiyah and Klara Andersson scored their first win in the Extreme E Energy X Prix in the 2022 finale in Uruguay as Lewis Hamilton’s X44 Vida Carbon Racing drivers Sebastien Loeb and Cristina Gutierrez survived a chaotic finale to edge the 2021 champion Rosberg X Prix team of Johan Kristoffersson and Mikhaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky, by two points.

“There are so many emotions,” Andersson said in Extreme E’s coverage. “I’ve been waiting for this for so long. In my second race, first full weekend to be at the top of the podium: it’s big.”

Andersson was behind the wheel at the finish.

Rosberg Racing entered the event with a 17-point advantage over X44, but the standings were close enough that four teams remained in contention in Round 5.

“It’s a crucial weekend for us,” Loeb said in Extreme E’s coverage prior to the race. “We are not in the best position to win the championship, but the only thing we can do is try to win the race and score as many points as possible.”

The top two title contenders each crashed in qualification and were relegated to the Crazy Race, Extreme E’s version of the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ). For the moment, they had the steepest hill to climb, but then the other two championship contending teams, Chip Ganassi Racing and Acciona Sainz Racing failed to advance from their heats.

Only one team advances from the Crazy Race, so the X44 drivers were in a must-win situation to simply keep hope alive.

More: Extreme E 2023 schedule

Ahlin-Kottulinsky and Gutierrez ran wheel to wheel into the first turn at the start of the LCQ.

The Rosberg racer experienced crash damage in that turn that damaged her front steering, but managed to limp back to the pits at the end of her two-lap stint. The team attempted to fix the steering, but incurred a penalty for having too many mechanics in the pit area.

Meanwhile, Gutierrez took the early lead, but knew she would need to sit through a five-second penalty for an incident earlier in the weekend. The female half of the gender equal pair erased the penalty by entering the Switch Zone with a five-second lead before turning the car over to Loeb.

That was all the nine-time World Rally Championship titlist needed to give him the advantage needed to win the Crazy Race.

But the championship was not over yet. X44 Racing needed to finish third or better in the five-car finale to earn enough points for the title and after advancing from the LCQ, they were forced to take the worst grid position.

A chaotic start to the Finale saw Loeb run as high the lead and low as fourth after getting pushed off course during his first lap. And that is how he entered to Switch Zone.

On her first lap, Gutierrez slammed into Molly Taylor. With one lap remaining, X44 and Gutierrez were still in fourth and the title hope was quickly evaporating, but it was announced halfway through the lap that the third-running Andretti United team would suffer a penalty for a Switch Zone infraction. The seven-second deduction for Timmy Hansen braking too late in the zone made the difference in the title.

Coming off a disappointing Copper X Prix when Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour crossed under the checkers first, but were relegated to fifth by penalty, the McLaren pair scored their first podium of the season in second.