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Di Resta pleased with F1 comeback display despite retirement

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Paul di Resta was content with his performance in Sunday’s Hungarian Grand Prix after being handed a shock Formula 1 comeback on short notice by Williams.

Di Resta was drafted in to replace the unwell Felipe Massa at the Hungaroring after FP3 on Saturday, the Scotsman heading out in a 2017-spec car for the very first time in qualifying.

Starting 19th, di Resta spent the entirety of his race running at the back of the field before being forced to retire due to an oil leak later on his car, but he nevertheless enjoyed his maiden F1 outing in over three years.

“It was obviously a very exciting day, but it was a very difficult day as well,” di Resta said. “Jumping straight in the car with no experience of the different tire compounds or running on high fuel. I wasn’t sure what to expect so I went in with an open mind.

“You have to be very aware of the space around you, and how much downforce you lose when there’s traffic around you. So I was cautious and just wanted to keep my nose clean.

“We went a different way on strategy, but the biggest thing for me was just gaining the confidence as the runs went on and I was feeling more comfortable with the car.

“It would have been nice to finish, without the oil leak. But overall I’m not too dissatisfied with where I was given how little running I’d had.”

Williams technical chief Paddy Lowe added: “Paul, considering the circumstances, drove a great race with good consistency and stayed out of trouble.

“But unfortunately what appears to be an oil leak developed, as we were seeing an escalation in oil consumption so we decided to retire the car before the engine was in danger of losing oil pressure.

“So it’s a great shame for Paul, considering his fantastic response to our urgent need yesterday. We’re sorry not to give him a car that could get him to the finish.”

Dutch Grand Prix becomes fourth Formula 1 race canceled this season

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ZANDVOORT, Netherlands — The Dutch Grand Prix became the fourth Formula One race canceled this season because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, after organizers decided Thursday they didn’t want to play host to an event without spectators.

It was to be the first Dutch GP since 1985, but F1 wants to start the season with no spectators at races.

“We would like to celebrate this moment, the return of Formula 1 in Zandvoort, together with our racing fans in the Netherlands,” race director Jan Lammers said in a statement. “We ask everyone to be patient. I had to look forward to it for 35 years, so I can wait another year.”

The race in Zandvoort was set for May 3 and initially postponed. Fans who bought tickets can use them next year.

The coastal circuit has been redesigned, with some corners banked to facilitate faster racing.

The other races canceled this year were the season-opening Australian GP on March 15; the Monaco GP on May 24; and the French GP on June 28.

Another six have been postponed.

F1 organizers still hope to reschedule those and hold 15 to 18 races this season, starting in July with back-to-back races at the Austrian GP.