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News - Abu Dhabi GP
Looking back on Abu Dhabi
11 Nov 2012
After a run of frustrating weekends Paul Di Resta bounced back with a strong drive to ninth place in Abu Dhabi. What made the result special was that at the end of the first lap Paul was firmly in last place after a collision with Sahara Force India team mate Nico Hülkenberg left him with a puncture.
Paul had resolved some of the handling issues he’d faced recently with a change of chassis, and he qualified 12th in Abu Dhabi, two places behind Nico.
At the start two team mates found themselves squeezed by Sergio Perez and Bruno Senna as the cars ran four abreast into Turn One, and when Nico was unable to give Paul any room the two made contact.
“Four cars into Turn One doesn’t work, and unfortunately I was the one on front so I could not see what was happening,” says Paul. “I left more than half a track’s width, but what other people were doing on the right hand side of me was the question. There was contact with Nico, but there was nowhere for him to go.”
Paul found himself with a right rear puncture, and as he drove slowly back to the pits he could only hope that nothing else was damaged.
“I was fairly confident that it was just the tyre. Fortunately the tyre delaminated quite quickly, so it didn’t damage the floor. But with it doing that you’re slower to the pits, because you’ve got absolutely zero resistance, and it can actually be quite bad for the diff and the whole drivetrain.”
The team used the stop to give the car a quick once over for damage, and Paul resumed in 23rd and last place on new prime tyres. Given that he was already over 1m20s behind the leader he had little hope of getting into the points.
Fortunately luck came his way when the collision between Nico Rosberg and Narain Karthikeyan brought out a safety car. With little to lose Paul dashed into the pits on lap nine and took on more new prime tyres. He rejoined the queue still last, but now 21st thanks to the accident. More importantly he was now right with the rest of the field rather than languishing far behind.
“It just shows you not to give up. We found ourselves in no man’s land but quickly got ourselves back in it with a safety car.”
In theory he could now get to the flag without another stop. It was not an easy task, as he had to run a marathon 46 laps, although he was helped by the fact that the first five of those were run under the safety car, leaving him with a 41-lap stint at racing speed.
Paul soon began to make his way through the field and then as those at the front made their single scheduled stops he jumped up the order. Indeed by lap 34 he was up to sixth, and four laps after that, he was in fifth.
He enjoyed some good, clean racing along the way until he got involved in a spectacular battle with Romain Grosjean and Sergio Perez, one that ended with Paul escaping as his two rivals made contact and also took Mark Webber out of the race: “Everyone was very fair on my behalf apart from the Perez incident, I don’t know what he was trying to achieve.”
The incident brought out another safety car and Paul now faced a dilemma. He could stay out and hope that the tyres would get him to the flag, but the problem was that the safety car had allowed those behind on newer tyres to close up, and he might it hard to fend them off.
The alternative was to make a second stop and guarantee safe passage to the flag, and at least some points. The team duly chose the latter path, and on lap 39 Paul came in under the safety car for a used set of softs. It dropped him to 11th in the queue, but at least he had fresher tyres for the 16-lap run to the flag – of which the first three were run behind the safety car.
Paul gained one spot when Michael Schumacher had to pit with a puncture, and then in the last part of the race he moved ahead of Jean-Eric Vergne to claim ninth. Although he might have scored more points had he not made that second stop, Paul has no regrets.
“It was a last minute call from the pit wall, but it was the safest option to try and put some points on the table. In hindsight looking back at the tyre wear we would have actually made it. But we could easily have run into degradation and finished outside the points. You’ve got to look at it as two points gained, rather than points lost.
“We took the safe option and got a ninth, but if we’d been a bit more aggressive, the tyre life was probably there to be fifth. I think overall the nice thing to pick up on was that the new chassis did what it should, we put ourselves in a good position again and we can rebuild our confidence and certainly go to Austin fighting hard. I’m looking forward to it.”