Di Resta can dream of Bahrain podium finish

Paul Di Resta has not ruled out the prospect of finishing on the podium for the first time in his Formula One career on Sunday.

Paul di Resta, Force India

Although Di Resta qualified seventh for the Bahrain Grand Prix, the Scot moves up two places to fifth as Lewis Hamilton and Mark Webber will both serve grid penalties.

The position will be Di Resta's highest grid slot of his 43-race career, and given his Force India performs ideally in the heat, it opens up the possibility of a top-three finish.

"I'm not going to say never," said Di Resta.

"All I can say is that our performance in Malaysia - where it was also hot - during the race was obviously fairly strong before we had the wheel-nut issues (that forced him into retirement).

"If we can carry our qualifying pace into the race package, then who knows.

"But if we can finish anywhere around fifth then that would be a job well done as far as I'm concerned, and that's all we're aiming for at the moment."

Di Resta, however, has a formidable quartet ahead of him, with Nico Rosberg on pole in his Mercedes and Red Bull's reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel lining up alongside him.

On the second row are Ferrari duo Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa, the Brazilian another recipient of the penalties meted out to both Hamilton and Webber.

Di Resta has admitted to being "excited" at the prospect of what could come, adding: "We finished sixth here last year.

"On that basis we're quite hopeful our long-run performance is strong enough for us to fight with.

"If we can just get good track position early on, that will be the thing tomorrow [Sunday], and we can push the others on a bit."

Di Resta has team-mate Adrian Sutil alongside him, and given the lap-one collision between the duo in China last Sunday, he is aware of how crucial the opening exchanges will be.

"Obviously you need a clean first lap," added Di Resta.

"The key focus now is from the start into turn four, and then it will settle, but until that point it's an unknown.

"But we're in a great position, the car is strong and, as mentioned, our long-run performance gives us every reason to be hopeful of challenging for some good points."

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