Paul - "It's going to be a tough challenge."
Our test and reserve driver Paul di Resta made his first public appearance in the role when he drove Adrian Sutil's car at Albert Park on Friday morning. The Scot will be in action in the first session of most Grands Prix weekends
this year, standing in either for Adrian or Tonio Liuzzi. Paul had a good first morning, running 25 laps and recording the 11th best time, which was 0.3s off Tonio's best. After the session he gave his thoughts on his debut.
Was it easy getting out there and getting on with the programme?
"I wouldn't say it was easy, it was always going to be quite challenging. I've not driven this car in the dry. When I did the superlicence [mileage] it was quite wet at Jerez. So the first impression of the car is always good, but also Melbourne is also not the easiest track to go out for your first attempt. There's not much room for error. The basic approach was to start at the bottom and work my way up and the last lap was the fastest lap. It was quite a short run in the end, I think if we could have had a couple more laps we would have been a bit better again. But the session had quite a few red flags, and it interrupted some of our programme. But equally we were at least able to have a second run and start making some changes, start the development work for this weekend and go forward with the race car for the guys to take over."
Were you able to contribute much from the beginning to the end?
"Yeah, there were things that showed up right away, but I think the main improvement over the session was certainly the track. The track was very green at the start, and certainly at the end you saw a black line on the whole track, even on the straights you could see it. You were chasing the track a bit, but at the same time we certainly went in the right direction I believe, because when the track did rubber in, we certainly didn't have any problems. I think we showed reasonably quite strongly, so I have to be quite optimistic about it."
What's the biggest lesson you've learned today?
"I wouldn't say there was any overall lesson I've learned. I certainly don't take anything for granted in this business. It's difficult, and I know it's going to be a tough challenge. What I'm doing is going to be even harder. You're coming into the weekend, you're only driving in one session, and you need to make the best of that. Equally everybody's getting to drive a lot more, so they're going to be up to speed a lot quicker. We have our goals and we have our sights set on what we want to achieve from it, and that's the way I'm looking at it. I just want to take every lap, go about it as best as I can, try and improve one by one, and try and gain experience to go forward. I almost want to go back out today, because I know getting out of the car and having lunch and sitting thinking about it a bit more gives you more [lap] time, and it becomes more natural when you jump back in it. Everything happens a bit quick, there's a lot of different things that you've got to run through on an F1 car. It was a new track, a new car, and a new system to me, so there were quite a number of things I had to learn. I know for every track it's going to be a new circuit to learn, but in terms of the systems it should be relatively quite similar. Hopefully it'll get easier the more it goes on."
Have you had to adapt to the F1 car as you're used to a DTM car?
"I wouldn't say it takes much to adapt, it's just as I said finding the new tracks, and finding where you need to be quick and where the time's gained. And also just finding the limits. The other thing is how much the track improves over the first session. It's just getting used to it. For sure it's going to be a bit different, there's a lot more you can do as a driver to get your preferences with the diffs and the various different torque maps. I was just running through everything, trying to learn as much as possible, and equally trying to help the team and be sensible and go forward with their development."
Was it a pretty good feeling to come out amongst some legendary names?
"Yeah, but we didn't go into the session even thinking about looking at the time sheets. I was pretty close to my team mate, so given what we achieved there, I think we have to be happy with it, and hopefully it's a good foundation to build on for the up and coming races."