Paul di Resta's 2012 campaign ends on a bum note, writes Kieran Westbrook.
Paul di Resta may reflect on his 2012 campaign with that niggling question: “what if?”
The Formula One star crashed out of Sunday’s Brazilian Grand Prix on the second last lap of the season.
That placed him 14th overall in the Driver’s Championships - one position worse than his 2011 rookie campaign.
Midway through the campaign and di Resta’s stock couldn’t have been higher.
He had already bettered his previous year’s points tally and was being strongly liked with moves to Mercedes and Ferrari.
But the door closed when Sauber rival Sergio Perez beat him to the Mercedes cockpit, while Ferrari’s Felipe Massa agreed to extend his contract through the 2013 season.
Those were the big jobs up for grabs, and it was a sign of how highly thought of di Resta has become that he was linked for both positions.
However, since the jobs were filled, his form has taken a dip and his stock has taken a hit.
Publicly, di Resta would say he is committed to Sahara Force India, and he unquestionably is.
However, as with every sport where money plays a big part, you have to take the job offers when they come along.
The second half of di Resta’s campaign saw him struggle to pick up the points.
He had managed 27 points in the first 10 races of the 2012 calendar, but only took 19 in the second half.
That would still sound like a reasonable return if it weren’t for the fact that 12 of those 19 were collected in a single race in Singapore.
The reality is that he only made the points in four of his last 10 races.
Meanwhile, his team-mate Nico Hulkenberg was tearing up the field with 32 points and six points finishes in the same last 10 races.
His stable partner’s rise in prominence is now in itself an obstacle.
In no other sport is a team-mates’ success more of a hindrance to your own success than in Formula One.
Ignoring the issues of rider preference among pit bosses and team instructions during races, F1 racers are judged and compared to their team-mates.
It’s the surest way of comparing two drivers as they are both in the same car.
To go far in the sport, you have to first prove to be more successful than your team-mate.
Hulkenberg is now the Saraha Force India new kid on the block and will be viewed as the promising young racer.
Both Hulkenberg and di Resta are among the youngest drivers on the circuit, and F1 recruiters looking at both of them will believe they offer similar advantages.
However, Hulkenberg ended the 2012 campaign on far stronger form.
He grabbed 5th place in Brazil and was unlucky not to win the team’s first ever podium. He also finished 11th overall in the Driver’s Championships.
Di Resta by no means had a bad season, but as he removed his helmet after crashing into the barrier in Brazil to bring down the curtain to his 2012 campaign, he may wonder where it all went wrong.
And as he heads back to West Lothian to spend some well-earned time with his family, there will have plenty for him to mull over in the close season.