Di Resta warms to idea of contesting a podium spot

Scot is happy to settle for fourth place after leading, while Hamilton is glad of fifth

While Paul di Resta was pressuring Fernando Alonso for second place by the seventh lap of the Bahrain Grand Prix, having overtaken pole-sitter Nico Rosberg with insouciant ease, it seemed that the latter's team-mate Lewis Hamilton was about to have the worst race of his illustrious F1 career.

While the Scot in the Force India which uses the same powerplant was having his best race, Hamilton in the works Mercedes languished in 11th place, having lost two positions from his ninth place starting slot on the grid.

Force India had gone to Bahrain optimistic of a strong performance, but as Di Resta picked up the lead for three laps once winner Sebastian Vettel had pitted for fresh tyres on the 10th, things were exceeding their expectations. Running the same two-stop strategy that would help Kimi Raikkonen to second place, Di Resta remained in play for the rest of the race, running comfortably ahead of luminaries such as Red Bull's Mark Webber, Ferrari's Felipe Massa, Rosberg and Hamilton and the McLarens of Jenson Button and Sergio Perez. He had looked strong in Malaysia and China only to have his performances overlooked due to misfortune beyond his control. But now he was showcasing an ability that saw him beat Vettel when they raced together in Formula 3.

Hamilton, meanwhile, was struggling in his Mercedes, until he got off the medium-compound Pirellis and onto their harder rubber. That coincided with a three-degree drop in the ambient and track temperatures, and suddenly the Mercedes became switched on and the old Hamilton was back as he began scything his way forwards.

In the end, Di Resta had to settle for fourth place, just when his first podium seemed a probability, because his car could not match the pace of Romain Grosjean's Lotus, but fourth made a point for the quiet man who was overlooked for the McLaren ride that went to Perez.

"It's great to round off the fly-away races with a fourth place and a race that was probably my strongest grand prix," he said. "The podium was very close, but with our strategy we were always going to be vulnerable at the end of the race – especially to Grosjean, who had two new sets of medium tyres.

"I had a good start, a strong opening stint, and we showed our true speed today, but ultimately fourth place was the maximum that was possible. We'll get on the podium one day, hopefully soon, but for now we can be very happy with the points we've scored today. A big thanks to the whole team; it's been an excellent weekend and I feel we managed to get 100 per cent out of the car."

Hamilton was equally happy, having enjoyed a brutal slugfest with Webber. He grabbed fifth place from the tough Australian on the final lap, and as Rosberg over-taxed his tyres and needed a fourth pit stop, his unexpected result moved him ahead of Alonso in the points table.

"I'm really happy with our race today," Hamilton said. "It's been a tough weekend for us but we got through it and finishing in fifth place was some good damage limitation.

"My race didn't start well at all. I was looking after the tyres but I really struggled on the first two stints and was falling back. But as the temperatures dropped, the car picked up and then I had the grip that I needed to push and close the gap. I had so much fun fighting with Mark at the end. We really needed the points and I was so determined to get by. It was good, clean wheel-to-wheel racing."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders