Di Resta hails Monaco as the 'highlight' of F1 but faces tough fight for points

Paul Di Resta is not expecting the unexpected to land him a shock result in Monaco tomorrow. Di Resta will compete in his first Monaco Grand Prix this weekend, the race now on his doorstep since moving to Fontvieille earlier this year.

Thursday's two practice sessions were the first time Di Resta had set a wheel on the track in six years since his days in Formula Renault. It was a baptism of fire for the Force India driver who sat out the final hour of the second 90-minute run due to a technical issue, depriving him of valuable track time.

Di Resta eventually finished 20th on the timesheet, five seconds off the pace set by Fernando Alonso in his Ferrari. Today's qualifying session is likely to be a tough one for Di Resta, and even accounting for incidents and safety cars in the race the following day, just to even dream of a podium is beyond the Scot.

"When you watch this race every year it's the highlight of F1," said Di Resta. "I can remember watching one which was wet and only six cars finished, and I can also remember the year Lewis won it [in 2008]. He hit the wall and for half a lap had a puncture, stopped, and then the safety car came out. It couldn't have been any better for him.

"There are many things that can happen here. [Team-mate] Adrian [Sutil] was on for a good one three years ago until [Kimi] Raikkonen ran into the back of him, so it will be interesting. But a podium? That is a bit unrealistic. However, if we came away from here having scored points then we would be delighted."

Meanwhile, Jenson Button will be turning Japanese this weekend courtesy of a new diamond-encrusted helmet design. For the seventh successive season, diamond makers Steinmetz have teamed up with McLaren for the showpiece event of the Formula One calendar.

On this occasion Button has dispensed with the Union Jack that has traditionally adorned his helmet, and instead opted for a predominantly Japanese theme, all in red and white, in sympathy with the victims of March's earthquake and tsunami. "I love Japan and they are going through a very difficult time at the moment. It's to show them that there are a lot of people thinking of them," Button said.

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