BY CHERYL TAY
Force India's Paul di Resta recently achieved his highest Formula 1 finish with a fourth place at the Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix. Team-mate Nico Hulkenberg has also been putting forward some top five finishes.
For both di Resta and Hulkenberg, 2012 is their second Formula 1 season as a main driver. Hulkenberg was formerly with Williams in 2010 but lost that drive and went over to Force India as a third driver for 2011, while di Resta made his Formula 1 debut in 2011 with Force India.
"There's a big difference when you are a racing driver and you drive the race or if you are just a reserve and a test driver. I raced in 2010 for Williams and unfortunately lost that drive and became a third driver with this team. I had to wait on the sidelines for a year and now I'm back. It wasn't a nice experience but that is behind me," said Hulkenberg.
It was reported that di Resta had no manager for two months after he fired Anthony Hamilton (father of Lewis Hamilton) in July and would settle this in court later.
Earlier in September, it was announced that di Resta had hired a new manager — Richard Goddard, the same guy managing Jenson Button. The first thing that I asked di Resta was about his change in management. He simply replied, "It's not something that I need to go into detail about. I've said what I had to say. We are working at it, it's a new relationship and hopefully it will be a long and successful career in Formula 1 between both parties."
Taking some time out of their schedule during the Singapore Grand Prix, they gave me their thoughts and insights.
Q: Thoughts on the Singapore Grand Prix?
Di Resta: I think it will be a big loss to the Formula 1 calendar without Singapore. It's a very successful event and only one of the few countries we can do an event like this at night and still have the ambient temperature to have it. The people in Singapore are very nice and it's a great city; very alive. It gives a good buzz, kicking off the remainder of the year after the European season.
Hulkenberg: I'm a big fan of this race. I think it's a very special and mind-blowing event. For me personally I would like to come back here for many, many years. It's very special and not just because it's a night race, but how the circuit is built into the hub of the city. It's a big event and a big show; great entertainment for fans and even the drivers.
Q: More night races?
Di Resta: I think you could potentially have more but not many countries can do it. Probably Malaysia would be a good alternative? I know it's next to you but it produces the weather to be able to do it. Some tracks are a bit cold and it becomes difficult, the way the Formula 1 car is designed, for such conditions.
Hulkenberg: Not really; we only have one and it makes it special. If you have more of them then it will lose the special feeling about it, so it is good to keep it limited. It's kind of like a fashion thing; it looks nice and it is entertainment in a way, but racing is something that happens normally in the daytime.
Q: How do you prepare yourself before each race?
Di Resta: I think that's quite a personal thing; how you deal with your last few hours before the Grand Prix. It's not something I want to share about. It's very individual to me and something that is dealt through the season, like how to deal with pressure and how to manage it; to rest yourself properly and equally get yourself psyched up in the zone for when you go out on track.
Hulkenberg: I think there's a special, consistent routine, like a rhythm, to what you do before the race, such as your preparation, your warmup. You have about 10 to 15 minutes for yourself where you can focus and concentrate and go through the race in your head before you go out there and do the job.
Q: Do you have to watch what you eat?
Di Resta: Very much so. Both Nico and I are on the taller end and for drivers, where you position the weight in the car can influence the lap time quite a lot.
Hulkenberg: You always do. We always have to manage our fitness and body weight. Every now and then I treat myself to dessert as I have a sweet tooth.
Q: Do you have a favourite dessert?
Di Resta: Something I try to stay away from is dessert. It's not something you can enjoy but I crave sugar after a race. So whatever the kitchen has on offer for that day is normally what I eat.
Hulkenberg: Tiramisu. I don't make them I just eat them.
Q: What's the most difficult track you've driven on?
Di Resta: They are all difficult. I wouldn't know which one to choose to be fair. I wouldn't say Singapore is the most difficult; it is hard because it is a relatively slow speed for us with lots of slow corners. Generally the tracks that produce the bigger challenges are tracks like Silverstone and Suzuka, where the speeds are high and you really feel the car and the limits at those speeds.
Hulkenberg: I think Singapore is pretty much one of the top three most difficult tracks. It's a very long lap with a lot of technical corners, a lot of kerbs and bumps that you can get wrong. If you get them wrong they really cause you trouble.
Q: Any point in your career where you ever felt scared?
Di Resta: Yeah you do feel scared; it will be a bit untrue not to say that. In the wet where there is a lot of spray, sometimes these types of races can be quite the daunting task but one that you have to trust your abilities and the people around you.
Hulkenberg: Not scared really. I think as a driver if I'm scared then it's not a good sign. Obviously I have respect for all the drivers, the Formula 1 cars, the tracks and the corners with walls. I think you shouldn't be afraid. If you are scared then you are in the wrong sport.
Q: One thing you can change about Formula 1?
Di Resta: Staying in airports and all that travelling.
Hulkenberg: I would try to get more fan interaction, especially when the fans can't enter the paddock so it is hard to get in touch with the drivers. For one or two years now we have to do that autograph session with the fans but maybe there could be a bit more interaction with the fans.
Q: Is having 20 races in a season too many?
Di Resta: Not for a racing driver as we have the good end of the job. For a team maybe it stretches the guys and they travel probably double the amount of time we do.
Hulkenberg: For me I think 20 is a good number. 21 or 22 races for the drivers are still ok, but for the mechanics and the rest of the team, it gets quite hard.
Passionate about cars and motorsports, Cheryl Tay is a familiar face in prominent local, regional as well as international automotive titles. More of her at www.cheryl-tay.com.