He has never been amongst points here but Paul di Resta's 'affair' with the Indian Grand Prix continues to get stronger with every passing year. The Sahara Force India driver is now looking to cement the bond with a top-10 finish this weekend at the Buddh International Circuit.
The circuit at Greater Noida is one of Di Resta's favourite but a 13th place finish in the inaugural edition and 12th a year later, has left the Scotsman listless. While local support is never in short measure, he wants to impress his fans by executing plans to perfection. "This one of those tracks where finding the right rhythm with a well-balanced car really pays you back with lap time," he said. "We didn't score points in Japan but we made some real progress with setting up the car, so going an extra step and getting in the top 10 has got to be the goal this weekend."
While his team may be based in Silverstone in the United Kingdom, Sahara Force India is co-owned by Indian businessman Vijay Mallya. This, coupled with the name of the team itself, means fans here reserve the loudest cheer for its two drivers. "We come to India several times during the year and you can see the growing enthusiasm of the fans. It's great that we get to spend time with them and show them the thrill of Formula One up close," said di Resta.
Giving a taste of F1 to fans, however, is only part of his job description. Di Resta and his team is aware that loyal supporters will like nothing better than Sauber trailing them in the seventh position, with four races left. Just 17 points separate the two teams but team prinicipal Mallya is not too worried. "Sauber have been doing a very good job lately. (However) Our home race is always a very proud weekend for everyone in the team: the atmosphere at the track is incredible and we always enjoy plenty of support," Mallya said.
Mallya would also be banking on his other driver - Adrian Sutil. The German, who re-joined the team this year, collected two points from his first and only appearance here in 2011. "I remember the first race there two years ago -- so many people came to the race, showing such strong support for our team. We were in the spotlight for the whole weekend and scoring points in the first Indian Grand Prix was very important for us," Sutil said.