Di Resta left to rue error in Valencia qualifying
With Di Resta and Force India team-mate Nico Hulkenberg showing considerable pace for the first time this season, the team were poised for their best qualifying performance for some time.
A mistake by Di Resta in particular, however, means the Scot will only start from tenth at the Valencia Street Circuit, which is notorious for its lack of overtaking opportunities.
Di Resta was left bitterly disappointed over a case of what might have been, as he said yesterday: “It’s going to take a few hours to reflect on it, but it was a bit of a missed opportunity.
“On the last lap I tried as much as I could and unfortunately locked the rears and an inside wheel as well at turn 17.
“Looking at it realistically, I feel fourth was possible. If I’d improved in the last sector then maybe third. It was in there.
“What happened cost me a lot of positions, but then that’s the difference between an exceptional lap and the one I had.
“The positive side is we’ve shown we’re very competitive. We’re moving up.
“Although we’ve a lot of work to do tomorrow, there is no reason why we can’t be fairly optimistic about moving forward given our performance in all the conditions.”
It means strategy is critical if Di Resta is to have any hope of improving on tenth, with the possibility of making just one stop.
Di Resta added: “It’s all open, and at the end of the day I’ll give it a shot.
“We’ll have a think tonight and then come back with a different head tomorrow and focus on what I’ve tried to do all weekend, and that’s be fast.”
Sebastian Vettel produced an astonishing late hot lap to clinch the 33rd pole position of his Formula One career.
Vettel is now third equal on the sport’s all-time list, joining two greats in Jim Clark and Alain Prost when he took top spot on the grid for today’s European Grand Prix.
The German, winner from pole of this race for the past two years, smashed the field with a lap of one minute 38.086secs.
Joining him on the front row, but 0.324 seconds adrift, is McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton, with Pastor Maldonado reviving his season by claiming third place for Williams.