Paul Di Resta is a new boy on the Formula One scene and he will drive a full season for Force India. Last year, he was competing in DTM and eventually clinched the title. Paul is of course very much looking forward to his first F1 season.
A busy winter for you, but finally back down to work in the car last week. How did that test go? It was a very productive test. I did a few laps on Tuesday to get back into the swing of it and set a baseline and then got a full day on the Wednesday. As it was the VJM03 we weren't focussing on the times, it was more about getting data from the Pirelli tyres to feed back into the development of the VJM04. Everything went smoothly and we achieved our targets. For me it was also about getting back into the team environment, re-establishing the relationships I've built within the team and preparing as much as I can for the start of the season.
This year it is your own car, one you don't have to give back after free practice sessions - how did that feel and does it change your approach? Knowing I'll be on the grid in Bahrain hasn't changed me or my approach as I've always been committed to every task the team has given me. But like any promotion you need to work at it to understand what is required and how you can personally achieve that. I'm looking at it step by step and not letting it overwhelm me. It's a great opportunity and I want to make the most of it.
Last year you conducted a lot of simulator work for the team, will this continue into 2011? The simulator programme is a very important development tool for the team and last year I did a lot of proving and testing of new parts while the race drivers looked at specific race preparation. Now I'm in the race seat I'll be concentrating more on the next Grand Prix, learning the tracks, knowing when you need to operate the different systems we have to use and making sure that when I get to the event I can start on a solid footing.
With so many different driver operated systems in the car now, how will that affect your concentration in races and is there any preparation you can do to make it easier? There will be a lot of different systems to operate in the car now, from the KERS to the rear wing and the usual balance switches. The moveable rear wing will be a challenge to get right as it can only be operated in certain conditions, so this will be a learning experience for everyone. Coming in relatively new to F1 I think I will take to this quite quickly as I won't have anything else to reference it to, but all the same it's something we are focussing on in the simulator so it becomes more routine.
The race distances and stresses put on your body in DTM and F1 are quite different - has your preparation changed over the winter with regards to fitness or mental training? I've always said that a DTM car is like a single seater with a roof and racing them is pretty tough, so I don't have any concerns about fitness or concentration over the race distances. Participating in the free practice sessions last year however gave me a heads up to see which particular areas needed a bit more focus, for example your neck or shoulder muscles. Testing over the winter will be the best training to get back into it though.
A lot of the tracks will be new for you this year. How will you learn them or prepare in advance? I did eight tracks last year and know them fairly well now, and the rest I'll learn on the simulator or looking through last year's data. The sim we use is pretty accurate and gets you up to speed before you get to the track itself.
What are your expectations for this year? I don't want to say exact targets on record as there are so many factors that can come into play. What I do want to do is to have a positive approach, finish, be consistent and contribute strongly to the team's overall performance. We've got high aims of finishing in a good constructors' championship position and I know that I've got to play my part in this.