Any truth in di Resta rumours?

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Paul di Resta has been tipped to make his Formula 1 debut with Force India in 2009, as part of an intriguing scenario where Force India switch from Ferrari to Mercedes engines.

Di Resta’s background

Di Resta races for Mercedes in the DTM (German Touring Car Championship) but has an excellent record in single-seaters. He beat Sebastian Vettel to the F3 Euroseries crown in 2006 – the title Lewis Hamilton won the year before.

While Vettel sped off to F1 via the World Series by Renault, di Resta found himself in the DTM in a two-year-old car. But he stunned series regulars by winning with the car and running with the championship leaders in the early part of the season.

This year, equipped with an up-to-date model, he is heading into the title-deciding final round two points behind Audi’s Timo Scheider.

I met Paul at a DTM promotional day at Mercedes-Benz World at Brooklands two months ago. He took me on a few quick laps of the short circuit in a C-Class AMG which gave me a fascinating close-up view of his driving style.

Some racing drivers give you the impression they work as part of the car -coaxing and manipulating it through the bends in the smooth style we associate with the likes of Jenson Button. Di Resta struck me as more of a Fernando Alonso or Lewis Hamilton – completely on top of the car, with solid jabs at the brake pedal and strong, aggressive turn-in movements.

And out of the car he was pure Kimi Raikkonen. Perfectly polite but keen not to give anything away: besides a burning desire to become an F1 driver.

The McLaren and Force India link

Since then di Resta has done two days’ testing for McLaren (last week) and is expected to do more in the run-up to the F1 finale at Interlagos (see the F1 Fanatic calendar for details of dates).

A cynical take on this might be that McLaren are merely using him to get extra development work done they couldn’t ordinarily do. F1 teams get a dispensation from restrictions on their testing mileage for evaluating new drivers.

However a rumour last week suggested Mercedes were to take over from Ferrari as engine supplier to Force India. This in itself is a surprising development as Mercedes have only ever supplied one team during a season while in F1: Sauber from 1993-4 and McLaren since 1995.

It is possible that the changes in engine regulations have prompted a change of mind at Mercedes. Engine specifications are now largely fixed because of the development freeze and engine performance may be harmonised by new rules in 2009.

Will it happen?

Why put di Resta in a Force India and not a McLaren? Lewis Hamilton is contracted to the team until 2012 and it is unlikely another British driver would be put alongside him as it would squander the marketing value of having drivers of two different nationalities.

It’s rare for F1 teams to have two drivers of the same nationality, and when they do it’s usually for some specific marketing reason. Consider Super Aguri’s all-Japanese line-up in 2006 as they went for sponsors’ Yen (and how poorly it worked out for them in the end).

If the di Resta to Force India rumours are true it indicates McLaren have gone cool on Gary Paffett’s chances of reaching F1. Paffett, DTM champion in 2005, has been a McLaren test driver since 2006 but returned to the DTM in 2007 after a year away once it became apparent he was not going to land a McLaren race seat.

More about Paul di Resta on Maximum Motorsport
2009 F1 season
2009 F1 drivers and teams
All articles tagged F1 2009

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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12 comments on “Any truth in di Resta rumours?”

  1. Another Brit in F1…always a good thing in my eyes!!

  2. Alianora La Canta
    14th October 2008, 10:44

    I heard Force India had asked Mercedes about engine supply (via Five Live) because Ferrari couldn’t make its mind up on its KERS policy and Force India needed a decision. If Force India decide this is valid cause for getting the KERS from elsewhere, then it is unlikely that Ferrari would permit the combination of the two greatest rivals in F1 in the same machine (except to the extent that the FIA obliges this to happen). Hence why Force India might get an engine deal.

    However, I’ve not yet heard what Mercedes’ likely response to this is. I’m hoping they say no because Ferrari have the better engines and accommodating di Resta into Force India could be a problem. I can see Mercedes demanding his presence there if the engine/KERS deal is accepted, but both race drivers were on contracts involving a 2009 drive. So unless di Resta was a test driver, there’d have to be a contract buyout. Not only would Force India find this quite expensive, but I don’t think either of the incumbents deserve that treatment.

  3. Haug says its DTM or GP2 for di Resta next year. I hope it’s GP2.

  4. Haug says its DTM or GP2 for di Resta next year. I hope it’s GP2.

    Me too.

    I’d like to see Mercedes finally put its money where its mouth is, namely in a supply of customer engines.

    And while they’re at it, let them hand out a couple of (year-old) chassis’, too. Just don’t let Force India (or Toro Rosso for that matter) be eligible for WCC points, then, because, well… they wouldn’t be constructors.

    Only problem is that Williams would be the sole surviving non-customer privateer team. And with 2 Ferraris, 2 BMW Saubers, 2 Toyotas and as many as 4 McLarens and 4 Red Bulls on the grid, they’d have a seriously hard time.

  5. If the above and many other stories of highly talented drivers tells me one thing is that the dwindling number of F1 teams has to be urgently addressed and a system found which can not only accomodate but sustain over a long period at least another 4 teams , thereby also giving some new talent a chance to show themselves.

  6. Any deal with, ForceIndia will not go past the supply of and Engine and Kers system, perhaps some collaboration on Engine chassis integration, but I doubt there will be a shared chassis between the 2 teams.

    Well on Paffetts f1 chances. Paffett does not look like he is F1 material. He may will just be another relatively fast but not excepttionally capable driver, something like a Brundle. Mclaren where right not to look in his direction.

  7. Oliver –

    Well on Paffetts f1 chances. Paffett does not look like he is F1 material. He may will just be another relatively fast but not excepttionally capable driver, something like a Brundle. Mclaren where right not to look in his direction.

    And how did we arrive at this conclusion, may I know :-?

  8. Too Good – Well, McLaren picked Hamilton over him for 2007, and didn’t even bother to put Paffett in the car for a race in 2006 when de la Rosa was subbing for Montoya.

  9. Its actually time Mercedes start grooming German Talents and graduate them to F1.Rather then “personal likes of Ron” becoming the driving factor.
    One thing for sure unless there is Split in Lewis-Ron. McLaren/Mercedes wouldn’t get a genuine race winner in the 2nd Car,as nobody is going to put their career on line driving next to Lewis knowing that he is the Team-boy. So unless they have clear career plans for “Di Resta”, there is no point Di Resta dabbling with Test opportunities.

    I feel sorry for Paffett, for all the loyalty he showed to the McLaren Camp, he never got genuine shot at the F1 seat and all was left for him to go back to DTM, where if winning race on Old car is a Virtue, Paffett did that as well , so Di Resta is not the only one to win DTM race on a Old Car !!!

  10. Keith – Exactly, Was he thoroughly evaluated? that is my question. F1 can be a cruel sport, unless you have God Father and there is “Positive Perception” about you, you as a driver are pretty much done. Your results may not support, but positive perception can see you through

    Button getting drive over Sato, Ant Davidson being considered better than Sato and more in line with “Honda Philosophy” or Ant considered more in line with Honda Philosophy than NK , DC getting two seasons 2007-08 over Sure fire Race winner in JPM (in case of Redbull seat) is all vague. there are no “Objective Evaluation Criteria” unfortunately when it comes to driver capabilities.

  11. Acually, Jamie Green, another British Mercedes youngster, has also been in DTM for a while as well. He won the F3 Euroseries title in 2004, as well as being a former BRDC young driver of the year award winner, like Di Resta. Its a shame he hasn’t been given a proper chance at McLaren yet, at least Paffett has had several thousand kms under his belt, and Di Resta is going to have a serious attempt in an F1 car. However, he’s already 26, he might unfortunately overlooked for any F1 chance. At the end of 2004, he should have joined the newly formed (at the time) GP2 series, at least then he would have got onto the F1 radar.

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