Paul di Resta has been waiting for his chance in Formula 1 for some time now, and tomorrow morning he finally gets to roll out of the Force India pit garage as fully-fledged grand prix driver.
Speaking on the Thursday prior to the Australian Grand Prix, the 25-year-old Scot discussed why he thinks he is as well prepared as any of the other rookies in the field, why Melbourne is a tough place to make your debut and what he expects of the Force India in 2011. AUTOSPORT was there to hear what he had to say.
Q. Although you did the Friday sessions last year, how much of a change is it to be back racing in single-seaters after four years in the DTM?
Paul di Resta: It's going to be a big step. When you get around traffic it's going to be a bit different because the DTM is touring cars and you can rub a bit. But I have got experience and I've just got to go in and do my absolute best out there.
Q. The last time you were racing in single-seaters you beat your then team-mate Sebastian Vettel. Is that the ultimate ambition, to do that in F1?
PdR: Definitely, but you have to be very realistic about the challenge ahead. Force India is not where it needs to be in terms of racing against those guys but hopefully we can build on that for the future. Force India is going upwards and the aim is for that progression to continue and I hope to be in that position in a few years to race against those guys competitively and have some good battles.
Q. What do you want from this season?
PdR: Just to enjoy the experience of doing what I've always dreamed of doing. Hopefully the results will show and give me the natural progression to continue on in F1.
Q. Is your aim to be rookie of the year?
PdR: Yes. It's difficult to think of yourself as a rookie coming into F1. I'm 25, yes I'm a new person here and I just want to be respected and be part of this F1 grid and race these guys that I've watched on TV for a long time.
Q. Other rookies like Sergio Perez and Pastor Maldonado have GP2 experience. Is that an advantage for them?
PdR: I don't see why it's an advantage. I've had four great years in the DTM in a very competitive environment racing for a factory team and been part of the biggest car manufacturer in the world, Mercedes-Benz. That has given me some great experience and I come into F1 with Force India, a good team that has given me the chance and will give me all of the valuable information I need to hopefully become a good F1 driver.
Q. Is this a difficult circuit to start your F1 race career at?
PdR: I wouldn't say it's the easiest. It is a street track and quite a high-speed one, but I don't have a favourite track for the reason that I have to perform 19 times during the grand prix. The approach won't be any different here as it would be for another one. We just need to see how it pans out, how it builds up over the weekend and hopefully I can step up my performance when I need to.
Q. What is tricky about Albert Park?
PdR: If you looked at Bahrain, it's a bit more forgiving. Here there is not much run-off, but I'm not going into it thinking about that. I'm very positive about it. It's bumpy, it's tight, it's got some fast sections, it has got some cambers on the road and some white lines.
Q. Do you feel fully prepared for Friday with the testing you have had?
PdR: You would always want more, but at the same time I feel ready enough.
Q. What are your expectations for this weekend given that pre-season testing hasn't gone as well as the team might hope?
PdR: It's true it's not where it wants to be in terms of performance, but I'm not going in with any expectations. I'm open minded and positive and will judge it after the weekend. It's difficult to judge where you are in testing, there are a lot of unknowns and things that can influence the lap time.
Q. Has much changed on the car aero-wise since the last test?
PdR: Yes, we have brought some bits. Again, we're not clear how much it's going to give us, but it should be positive and we should see some influence from the new parts that have arrived.