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Di Resta and Hulkenberg’s head-to-head record at Force India
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Posted By: James Allen  |  22 Dec 2012   |  8:51 am GMT  |  82 comments

In the third part of our series comparing team-mates’ head-to-head records at the end of 2012, we’ve taken a look at something slightly different in analysing how the very close battle for supremacy played out at Force India between Paul di Resta and Nico Hulkenberg.

Unlike the respective pairings we’ve covered at McLaren and Mercedes, di Resta and Hulkenberg’s time as team-mates has ultimately lasted just one year with the latter having decided to switch to Sauber for 2013.

Their head-to-head data is therefore limited to just 20 races – but it’s a comparison still very much worth making given that at the start of the year the match-up appeared one of the most intriguing on the grid thanks to the pair’s similar ages, F1 race experience levels and status as two of the rising talents in the sport.

A glance through the headline statistics below will underline that Hulkenberg ultimately ‘won’ the key duels although, across the full balance of the season, he and di Resta were certainly one of the most evenly-matched pairs on the grid with the German only shading the qualifying head-to-head (12 to eight) and race results (11 to nine), while both achieved a season-best race finish of fourth place.

However, what the plain stats fail to show is how the balance of power swung quite decisively between the pair as the campaign progressed.

Having taken a step back in his career on joining Force India by taking on Friday driving and test responsibilities for 2011, Hulkenberg struggled to get up to speed and match di Resta in the early months of the season on his return to a full race programme.

Although di Resta’s qualifying advantage was rarely more than a handful of tenths, Australia aside – when Hulkenberg actually made Q3 only to retire after the first-lap melee – di Resta qualified ahead at five of the next six grands prix (Monaco being the exception) with Spain the only time in the opening seven events that the German recorded a better race finish.

However, a turning point for Hulkenberg appeared to be reached at the European GP in June when he qualified ahead of his team-mate in eighth, and then finished fifth in the race. Over the remaining 12 events di Resta would only outqualify him three more times (consecutively from Spa to Singapore) and only once finish ahead of him when both cars made the chequered flag – in Singapore, when he was an impressive fourth.

Indeed that result proved the high watermark of di Resta’s year as after that, the only time he finished ahead of the sister car in either qualifying or race conditions was when Hulkenberg crashed out at the first corner in Abu Dhabi.

To underline the extend that Hulkenberg finished in the year in the ascendency, in the final six rounds he made Q3 four times compared to di Resta’s none and scored 32 points (50% of his overall total) to the Scot’s two.

That late-season spurt certainly told in the final reckoning, leaving the impression that the stronger driver is the one who left the team for Sauber.


Di Resta v Hulkenberg’s stats compared (highest respective tally in bold)

Qualifying
Faster qualifying time: Di Resta 8 / Hulkenberg 12
Average qualifying gap: -0.275s Hulkenberg
Q3 appearances: Di Resta 7 / Hulkenberg 9
Best qualifying result: Di Resta 4th (Italy) / Hulkenberg 5th (Germany)

Races
Podiums: Di Resta 0 / Hulkenberg 0
Best race result: Di Resta 4th (Singapore) / Hulkenberg 4th (Belgium)
Top-five finishes: Di Resta 1 / Hulkenberg 3
Points finishes: Di Resta 9 / Hulkenberg 11
DNFs: Di Resta 2 / Hulkenberg 3
Best race result (inc DNFs): Di Resta 9 / Hulkenberg 11
Ahead in two-car finish: Di Resta 6 / Hulkenberg 9

Championship
Total points: Di Resta 46 / Hulkenberg 63
Final championship placing: Di Resta 14th / Hulkenberg 11th

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82 Comments
  1. ~a says:

    Nico is way better than Paul.

    1. LippyD says:

      I totally agree. Nico is streets ahead :D

  2. KRB says:

    I expected Di Resta to win this intra-team battle before the start of the season, but it’s clear that Hulkenberg won out in the end. Di Resta’s stock has taken a hit from this season. Next season is a very important one for him, if he has any aspirations of getting into a top car.

    I was impressed by Hulkenberg, to the point of having him as the 5th on my Best Drivers of 2012 list. He still has rough edges, but the most promise of the current crop of younger drivers on the grid.

  3. UnncleZen says:

    Im afraid Di Resta doesnt quite live up to the hype generated by the UK press. He’s a good driver but simply put, not as good as his team mate over the last 2 years, and I would doubt if he’ll be better than next years team mate whoever he is.

    1. F1 Badger says:

      What hype. I’ve not read any and I live in the UK. All I’ve read is that he’s a promising young driver…he is.

  4. Dave P says:

    It is sometimes unfait to say that a driver is better because he was stronger in the second part of the season when it simply might be that the direction of a cars development in the second part of the season favours one driver over the other..

    For instance, I am sure it will not be said that Massa was sudenly a better driver than Alonso because he suddenly got better and outqualified Alonso in the last two races.

    Making comparisons in this way is often difficult…

    1. Steve Zodiac says:

      + 1

    2. AuraF1 says:

      Good point, well made.

    3. AndyFov says:

      Though I agree to a point, this is useful unbiased analysis of statisitics. If you look at the Ferrari’s pairing’s stats over the whole season they’re hard to contest.

      I was impreseed by the Hulk too. He seemed to have the more engaging personality too, less dour, so from a sponsor’s POV I imagine he’s the safer bet.

      I agree that Paul needs a very strong 2013. If Sutil returns and makes life hard for him I don’t see him going much further. I’m hoping he finds something.

    4. GP says:

      First, the development of a chassis during the season is not going to impact a particular style. It may with a new car at the begining of the season but not halfway through.

      Second, the team is in the business of collecting the maximum number of points at every race. Therefore, the team will logically listen/follow the direction and advice of the better driver as judged by the team principals.

      And you can’t apply this backwards by saying one would be faster if the team listened to him more. The talking is done on the track and the team responds accordingly.

    5. Iwan Kemp says:

      True. We don’t know all the ins and outs. As far as I know Alonso was running a different diffuser which didn’t work as well with DRS – something which will have hampered him in quali.

      What I did notice was Di Resta being more and more grumpy in his remarks and quotes in the media.

    6. Mickey78 says:

      Or it took Hulkenberg some time to get used to the team/engineers before he could extract the full potention of the car. Either way, the numbers show that during this season Hulkenberg was faster than Di Resta.

      1. F1 Badger says:

        I wasn’t surprised Hulkenberg was faster once he had shed the well earned rust from a year away from racing. He is a very impressive driver. I was shocked at his treatment by Williams and felt that Williams missed a trick in letting him go. I felt that the F India battle was one of the most enthralling of the year. I strongly believe that both drivers will be better for this season.

    7. Ryan111 says:

      Well massa didn’t beat his team mate on points nor did he beat him in qualifying over the season so that was a bad example

      1. Dave P says:

        I think you are missing the point slightly. Comparisons are often made on many levels… and quite often they are unfair…we are not in possesion of all of the facts… OK we are just blogging no big deal… but its a bit like saying Alonso deserved the title more because he had two unlucky no points… its a waste of time because vettel et al could say similar, infact in other races this year where another driver was unluckily crashed into infront of Alonso he gained valueable places… I notice nobody says ‘well perhaps we should subtract the luckyness from him’ only give him the results where he was unlucky. So the same goes in this comparison. Overall they were basically comparable, one better / luckier earlier, the other later.

  5. JEZ Playense says:

    Hulkenberg is a future star. In this years Williams he would have been someone to reckon with. Frank should never have let him go.

    1. Chris says:

      Agreed, but money talks, and his replacement won a grand prix this year. Nico had a chance to win, and other than Alonsos desperate shout for a safety car probably would have tbf (understandable why FA begged for one of course, but I’m a force india fan, so give me that one guys).

      Overall though, he would have outscored Maldonado.

      1. John Gibson says:

        Absolutely. The decision to call a safety car is always taken after a driver demands it and has nothing whatsoever to do with the ability of Charlie Whiting to act on his own initiative.

      2. JEZ Playense says:

        Your points are valid, without Maldonado’s money, the Williams might have been another ordinary mid field car.

        Still I think Frank should have kept Hulkenberg over Barricello, and thus had the best of both!

      3. Chris says:

        Hard to argue with that view!!

      4. Iwan Kemp says:

        That was Alonso at his best. He knew his best and probably only chance of catching the leading three was for a safety car to bunch them. So he used a grey area and if it wasn’t THAT bad the FIA would not have sent the SC out.

        Behind the SC there was radio feed from Vettel about debri on track still

  6. Rich B says:

    the car certainly improved in the second half of the year, so is it possible paul just got worse during that time and hulk delivered the results the car was capable of without actually improving himself?

    that’s possibly the longest question i’ve ever asked

  7. tank says:

    “di Resta would only outqualify him three more times (consecutively from Spa to Singapore)”

    I think in between those was Italy where Hulkenberg experienced a car failure at the beginning of qualifying. Have nice photos of the marshals taking the car away (was right there when it happened!). Hulkenberg was fast in the practices if memory serves.

    1. oakrichardson says:

      that was also one of di restas best qualifying performances. he was 4th but had a penalty i believe

  8. meg says:

    An excellent analysis James. Just goes to show how tough the middle order really is. We should not sneer when Lewis manages to secure forth or fifth position. It really is tough out there!

    1. jill says:

      Hamilton should be winning not languishing in forth or fifth. He’s meant to be way better than a Massa or a Webber.

      1. JEZ Playense says:

        Agreed, and on his good days he is a top pinacle. It’s just not often enough, the consistency needs to be there.

        Consier Kimi this year. He knew the car was not really fast enough to bring the crown home, so he constantly drove within the realistic limits and secured third place.

      2. Andrew M says:

        Please name the races where Lewis could have been more “consistent” this season.

        And Kimi beat Lewis because the latter lost about a hundred points from mechanical/operational failures, not because he under personally underperformed – the team wasn’t consistent, he was.

      3. darren says:

        Lewis has to compete against 2x Red Bulls, Ferraris, Lotuses and of course McLarens next season in a Merc. It will be no mean feat to come in 4th or 5th in a race I reckon.

    2. RodgerT says:

      Why does every article about F1 that has a comments section always end up having someone bring up Hamilton?

      This an article about the Force India drivers, if you don’t have anything to say about the drivers the article is about don’t say anything. There is no need to mention Hamilton when the above article has nothing to do with him.

  9. Jimbob says:

    I have to say that as good as Di Resta is, I think he’s overrated. Hulkenberg will, I’m sure, be considered one of the very best drivers in a few years and I’m gutted as a McLaren fan to seen them take Perez instead of him.

    1. Ed says:

      Agreed, was hopping to see McLaren go for Hulkenberg. Rate him above Perz, might be the money talking.

  10. AJ says:

    Just received signed copy of James Allen yearbook. Thank you – and maybe we’ll meet again – whether Bernie will wander in during dinner next time – who know’s.

    Have a great Christmas and New Year with the family…and here’s to 2013

  11. Mickey78 says:

    So the hype behind Di Resta is clearly out the door now! I wonder how DC will spin this.

  12. Aderac says:

    Di Resta seems to me, to be a very solid number two and nothing else i’m afraid.

  13. Erik says:

    Hulkemberg should have got the McLaren seat.

    1. Scott says:

      That is what I am thinking too

  14. Sankalp says:

    Considering that Di-Resta has a high opinion of himself, he should be disappointed by his performance relative to his teammate in the latter half of the season. Hulk decisively proved that he was the better driver. In the end if I were Mallya I would be worried.

    1. Martin says:

      I think most professional drivers have high opinions of themselves. Some, such as Prost, Button, Lauda, Alonso, to name a few might suggest they may not be consistently the fastest driver over one lap, but find ways to argue they are stronger in other areas and better overall.

      I recall pretty consistent excuses from di Resta when he didn’t do as well as his team mate (Nico or Adrian) such as a lack of engine power, traffic in Q2 (a few times).

      Di Resta may drive better next year as he is likely to an initial advantage over his team mate through experience and whoever that team mate is, he (I’m not expecting a she) won’t have the pedigree of Hulkenberg. That advantage could lead to a general edge in confidence. However, Mallya will have a worse driver line up in 2013 than 2012, so in that sense he definitely should worry.

      A point for debate is the relative change in the Sauber line up for 2013 to 2012.

      Cheers,
      Martin

      1. Sankalp says:

        My intention was not to belittle Di Resta. All the drivers you mentioned above have a high opinion of themselves because they have achieved so much. I don’t remember Alonso claiming he’s better than MSc in ’03.

        My broader point here is that time’s running out for the guy. He has to drag that FI to places it doesn’t deserve to be. Luck would of course be a factor, but so would his driving.

    2. oak says:

      how does he have a high opinion of himself? he speaks in a monotone alot but doesn’t exaggerate himself, unless you are talking about when he is asked about that season he beat vettle?

      1. Canadian F1 Fan says:

        I’m not sure you’ve seen the interviews with him where he states quite clearly he’s pissed because he used to beat Lewis et al in Junior Formula. He’s got a pretty big head, and I think NIco certainly has deflated that a touch now.

        Can’t believe Perez was chosen over the Hulk, must be more to it than meets the eye.

  15. WiLL says:

    Di Resta reminds me of David Coulthard, a very respectable No.2 driver. And by that I mean DC in his earlier years not the last few when he was crashing into everyone!

    1. Ez Pez says:

      David was a strong contender right through the 90′s and into the 00′s. He was just unfortunate with his team mates being Hill and Hakkinen, world champions who were favoured by the team. At Williams he suffered from reliability problems, same at Mclaren. He only won I think 13 races, but he had to concede more than a few position’s to Damon and Mika, some of which where certain victory’s.

      1. hero_was_senna says:

        DC drove a few races in 1994 for Williams, when Mansell wasn’t available.

        His only full season for Williams was 1995.
        Besides, in 1995, Hill was not a World Champion, and to ever accuse Williams of favouring a driver over another…. you obviously haven’t been watching F1 for very long.

        Mclaren? Absolutely agree, they only had eyes for Mika.

    2. Gudien says:

      Nice to see David Coulthard’s name brought up in this thread. Perhaps 2013 will be DC’s year.

  16. Chris says:

    Anyone think that the Hulk made the wrong move leaving?

    It’s a real tough one, I thought the FI was a much better car at the end of the season. As a Fi fan, I am biased, but tbf, I thought Sauber had a better car upto and just beyond mid season.

    I like the Sauber team though, and wish him well ;(

    1. Canadian F1 Fan says:

      Nope.

      With the money issues Malaya is having, I’d be out too… Suaber is on the rise.

  17. Elie says:

    My memory of Force Indias in 2012 would be their great ( but fair tussles with Lotus- Kimi . Both drivers I thought did a great job. But it was clear that late in the season Nico “found his feet” and was competitive even with the teams ahead. I always thought Nico was a great talent that didn’t get a chance to shine whilst at Williams. I just hope that the Sauber is at least as impressive as this year- as otherwise it could be a setback to his career development. I’m not sure if Di Resta has hit his peak but if he can improve slightly on this year- he could be in for a shot at Mclaren in a couple of years.

    James do you see Hulkenbergs move to Sauber as an opportunity to be closer to Ferrari in the future? Or just an uncertainty over the Force Indias future given the groups financial woes.

    1. James Allen says:

      Yes, a chance for Ferrari engineers to study him as they have the data from engine side and are integrated into the team

    2. Elie says:

      Got my book today. Yeah :)

  18. Fernando Alonso says:

    Agree with the general consensus here. Di Resta has had two years in a solid mid field team. Sutil beat him in quali and race, which was expected. Now Hulkenberg does the same thing despite needing the start of the season to dust off cobwebs and get some momentum. Di Resta had the best chance any driver had of beating a non-rookie credible team mate.

    I find it odd how much UK media rally behind Di Resta despite actual results over 24 months. Brundle, DC, crofty act as if he is a Hamilton or Button. They keep promoting him, but it will be an interesting situation if his 3rd year is as poor as his first two relative to team mates, given the promoted high calibre he claims to be.

    1. Ross says:

      100% agree. The way they tried to push him into Massa’s seat at the start of the season became rather tiresome. If Ferrari had let Massa go what qualifications did Di Resta have to make that step up.

      I thought it was pretty cheeky for Di Resta to be touting himself about for the McLaren and Mercedes drivers whilst still employed at Force India. Given the calibre of drivers out of work he is lucky to still be there.

  19. Fernando Alonso says:

    Also agree that Hulkenberg should be in a McLaren next year. Perez is not bad, by any measure, but Hulkenberg became outstanding for a long enough period at the end of this season. Perhaps he’ll be groomed for Massa’s replacement at end of 2013. Alonso is not dumb, he must smell another 2007 year on the horizon with the Hulk.

    1. Mitchel says:

      Because Hukenberg got beaten by Barichello in his first season, I don’t think Alonso will be immediately thinking back to 2007 against a rookie Hamilton.

      His best race performance to date should’ve ended in a DNF for him not Hamilton…

      People latch on to drivers like Hulkenberg, Schumacher and Alonso unequivocally. Yet drivers like Rosberg and Maldonado seem to never get much credit.

      1. hero_was_senna says:

        Something that constantly annoys me.
        Hulk vs Rubens or Maldonado vs Rubens.
        Both rookies against a very experienced race winner, and frankly Maldonado had the measure of Barrichello, something that Hulkenburg never really demonstrated.
        I think alot of people are getting carried away with the Hulk in a similar fashion to how Heidfeld used to get hyped beyond his abilities.

        Regards Alonso, I think there is only one driver he truly believes to be on his pace, and that’s Hamilton, not Vettel

      2. UAN says:

        Actually I think Alonso really believes Vettel is not only on his pace, but right now is his only true competitor. It is for that reason, since they are locked in battle, that he purposely doesn’t give Vettel the credit he gives Hamilton. He’s playing mind games. Unfortunately for Alonso, his mind games don’t seem to be working, at least on Vettel – they may have played a role in Hamilton deciding to switch teams.

        As for Hulkenberg and Maldonado (and I’d throw Grojean in there as well), they may be rough around the edges, but they have serious speed.

      3. KRB says:

        UAN, on this I don’t think Alonso’s playing mind games. He’s just speaking his mind. I think Alonso thinks (and has said) that Vettel is quick, in a quick car, but that in the same car, he’d (Alonso) be quicker.

        There’s no doubt that the RedVetull combo is the one to beat in F1 right now.

        What Alonso is saying is that if the current grid of F1 drivers were to compete in a spec series, that he thinks it would be he and Hamilton competing at the top. I for one agree with him. I think Vettel is quick, don’t get me wrong. I just feel I need more proof that it’s down to him, and not just him standing on the shoulders of the car.

    2. Gudien says:

      Alonso smells more than ‘the Hulk’. Surely by now, after all the holiday festivities and speeches by Luca di Montezemolo Fernando must be looking over his shoulder for a certain Sebastian Vettel to be introduced at Ferrari.

  20. Ben says:

    At the start of the year I thought DiResta was a great prospect, and I thought Hulkenberg was overrated. Now I think I got that the wrong way round…

  21. James says:

    My opinion is that di Resta is quick, sometimes very much so, but Hulkenberg is champion potential. He can be incredible in wet and mixed conditions, with super pace in the dry too.

    With Sauber and its kind to tyres car, allied with aggresive Hulk driving, next year could bring good results and put him into a championship car for the future.

    1. Darrin from Canada says:

      I can’t get away from the feeling that if it comes down to it Hulk will run into anyone he feels is in his way, and Di Resta at least has an ounce or two of class. It takes more than sheer agression to become a champion…

  22. mjsib says:

    Di Resta reminds me of Rosberg, good but nothing special. If the car is good enough for 7th then he will finish 7th whereas Hulkenberg would drag the same car to 5th

    1. hero_was_senna says:

      Really? Can you point out a normal dry race where that has been obvious?

  23. william says:

    the numbers dont lie. by almost every measure Nico is better in the head to head comparison. he also has a better head so is more marketable.

  24. Lynn says:

    Merry Christmas & A Happy New Year James!
    Looking forward to reading your blog for the 2013 season.
    Cheers!

    1. James Allen says:

      Thanks and the same to you. Thanks for your support

  25. JB says:

    Considering that Hulkenberg need time to get into the groove. Advantage should be on DiResta side.

    This all means that Hulkenberg is really special. I see him and Maldonado as strong drivers.

    Perez performance after signing Mclaren has been rubbish.

    Grosjean is fast but until he can make it around the first corner. I doubt he will go anywhere. I definitely don’t think he has learned spatial awareness yet. I look forward to be proven wrong though… hehehe..

    1. KRB says:

      Really special? I think he’s good and definitely above average. I wouldn’t even say “special” yet, nevermind “really special”.

      I haven’t discounted Di Resta either. It’s just that this season has seen his stock dip measurably IMHO. He needs a strong year next year, lest he become this generation’s Brundle.

  26. Irish con says:

    I think Nico is a potential future world champion. I don’t think Paul will be tho. Nico has just that bit more needed for that IMHO

  27. Stephen Hughes says:

    Wasn’t there talk at one point in the season of their being some issue with Paul’s car for a number of races that eventually lead to a new chassis being used?

    What the issue ever identified, or was the change just at attempt to give him confidence and try and improve his performances?

    Someone who can win the DTM against the drivers he did can’t be a poor driver, it may just be that he’s more suited to tin-top racing than open wheel.

  28. JB HAM says:

    I think we have a very good crop of young drivers.

    Maldonado
    Grosjean
    Hulkenburg
    Di Resta
    Perez
    Pic
    Petrov

    These are all decent drivers.

  29. Mary Webster Pilar says:

    Nico was MUCH BETTER than Paul.

    It is sad to see a good journalist triyng to make his home driver look better than he actually was just because he is british…

    1. James Allen says:

      Oh dear, you really don’t understand this site do you?

      1. Scuderia McLaren says:

        What is Mary Webster Pilar missing? Thought it was an apt comment. The British have pushed Di Resta like his flatulence does not smell distasteful. Where I am from we get the BBC feed for races and mainly British magazines in the news stands and it is quite painful the lack of responsibility British media take on fair commentary when the whole world is relying on their views. I have begun turning off sound during races as “crofty” in particular is quite painful, though Brundle is not much better. We get it, you hate Schumacher… We get it, Hamilton and Button and Di Resta are individually better than Senna and Schumacher combined. Brundle berates Schumacher with all the credibility of someone who had zero wins with the most races.

    2. Robert says:

      The whole point of these excellent Head to Head analyses is to avoid the need to use imprecise terms like “much better”.

      It is a shame that Hulk is not now at McLaren. He has done enough to deserve a top seat.

  30. tim says:

    Seems like PdR has Mass syndrome. Loses confidence, loses speed.

  31. Tornillo Amarillo says:

    Leading laps? Hulk was there for a victory in Brazil, while we saw many times Di Resta in the wall, not good for the consistency game of these days for the latter.

    And I think Martin Whitmarsh said something fatalistic and negative for Paul Di Resta when considering a replacement for McLaren: “We were looking at potential…” and Paul was considered just a good british driver.
    http://www.formula1fancast.com/2012/10/formula-1-news/whitmarsh-we-considered-hulkenberg-and-di-resta

    So in 2014, etc., after an almost impossible bad 2013 in a good Sauber, Hulk can have the interest of, say, Mercedes, McLaren, Red Bull, Ferrari, all of the top traditional teams.

    But after not being better than Sutil nor Hulk, Di Resta can be there only after a last chance season, an heroic 2013, with a couple of poles, at least a win and some podiums… not easy to be achievable, but who knows? When you have nothing to lose, you do it.

    1. Chris says:

      Agree with you on the podiums, but I don’t think any top team expects a mid table team driver to take poles and wins!!

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