F1 Driver Review: Paul di Resta

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After talking about the big stories and ranking our Top 10 drivers from the 2013 FIA Formula One World Championship season, my colleague Chris Estrada and I are taking a look back on how each of the 23 Formula One drivers who took to the grid fared this past year.

Claiming 12th and currently facing an uncertain future in Formula One is Paul di Resta…

PAUL DI RESTA

No. 14 Force India-Mercedes
2013 Stats: 12th Place, 0 Wins, 0 Podiums, 1 Top-5, 9 Top-10s, 3 Laps Led
Average Start: 12.9
Average Finish: 12.5
DNFs: 6

DiZinno says: Di Resta has had roughly the opposite type seasons as Nico Hulkenberg, his 2012 teammate at Force India. The Scot traditionally starts strong but falters as the year goes on, and the pressure of grabbing the midfield points for the Constructor’s Championship mounts. That doesn’t look great to prospective employers, unfortunately. He was made to look worse than he was by Hulkenberg the tail end of last year and Adrian Sutil this year presented a similar measuring stick. Di Resta, as he did in his rookie year when paired alongside Sutil, compared favorably and once again had his moments of brilliance – the first stint at Canada stands out. Sutil may not be considered a “pay driver” but does have some budget to bring, and perhaps that’s why he’s at Sauber instead of the driver who outperformed him in 2013.

Estrada says: With no major financial backing to bring with him, 2013 may have been the last season of di Resta’s F1 career after he was dropped recently by Force India. He had a pretty good year going in the first half with seven Top-10s in the first eight races, including a great drive to fourth in Bahrain. But when the team faltered in mid-season, the Scotsman went down too and suffered a horrendous streak of five consecutive DNFs from Hungary to Korea. Di Resta bounced back with points-paying efforts in India (eighth) and Abu Dhabi (sixth) that helped the team hang on to sixth in the constructors’ championship. Unfortunately for him, that and outperforming Adrian Sutil weren’t enough to keep Vijay Mallya from giving him a pink slip. Now the question is whether he can land another F1 seat or if he’ll have to take his career elsewhere.

Miguel Oliveira wins MotoGP Thai Grand Prix, Bagnaia closes to two points in championship

MotoGP Thai Grand Prix
Mirco Lazzari / Getty Images
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Miguel Oliveira mastered mixed conditions on the Chang International Circuit in Buriram, Thailand to win the MotoGP Thai Grand Prix. Oliveira showed the adaptability as he navigated a race that began in wet conditions and turned dry over the course of the race. Oliveira won the Indonesian GP in similar conditions.

“It was a long race, but I can’t complain,” Oliveira said on CNBC. “Every time we get to ride in the wet, I’m always super-fast. When it started raining, I had flashbacks of Indonesia. I tried to keep my feet on the ground, make a good start and not make mistakes and carry the bike to the end.”

All eyes were on the championship, however. Francesco Bagnaia got a great start to slot into second in Turn 1.

Meanwhile Fabio Quartararo had a disastrous first lap. He lost five positions in the first couple of turns and then rode over the rumble strips and fell back to 17th. At the end of the first lap, Bagnaia had the points’ lead by two. A win would have added to the gain and for a moment, it appeared Bagnaia might assume the lead.

Early leader Marco Bezzecchi was penalized for exceeding track limits, but before that happened, Jack Miller got around Bagnaia and pushed him back to third. Oliveira was not far behind.

After throwing away ninth-place and seven points on the last lap of the Japanese GP last week, Bagnaia did not allow the competition to press him into a mistake. He fell back as far as fourth before retaking the final position on the podium.

“It’s like a win for me, this podium,” Bagnaia. “My first podium in the wet and then there was a mix of conditions, so I’m very happy. I want to thank Jack Miller. Before the race, he gave me a motivational chat.”

Miller led the first half of the Thai Grand Prix before giving up the top spot to Oliveira and then held on to finish second. Coupled with his Japanese GP win, Miller is now fully in the MotoGP championship battle with a 40-point deficit, but he will need a string of results like Bagnaia has put together in recent weeks – and he needs Bagnaia to lose momentum.

Miller’s home Grand Prix in Australia is next up on the calendar in two weeks.

Bagnaia entered the race 18 points behind Quartararo after he failed to score any in Japan. The balance of power has rapidly shifted, however, with Quartararo now failing to earn points in two of the last three rounds. Bagnaia won four consecutive races and finished second in the five races leading up to Japan. His third-place finish in Thailand is now his sixth MotoGP podium in the last seven rounds.

Aleix Espargaro entered the race third in the standings with a 25-point deficit to Quartararo, but was able to close the gap by only five after getting hit with a long-lap penalty for aggressive riding when he pushed Darryn Binder off course during a pass for position. Espargaro finished 11th.

Rain mixed up the Moto2 running order in the MotoGP Thai Grand Prix as well. Starting on a wet track, Somkiat Chantra led the opening lap in his home Grand Prix. He could not hold onto it and crashed one circuit later, but still gave his countrymen a moment of pride by winning the pole.

Half points were awarded as the race went only eight laps before Tony Arbolino crossed under the checkers first with Filip Salac and Aron Canet rounding out the podium.

American Joe Roberts earned another top-10 in eighth with Sean Dylan Kelly finishing just outside the top 10 in 11th.