Di Resta returns to F1 as Williams reserve driver

2016 F1 season

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Williams has confirmed Paul di Resta will return to F1 as their reserve driver, three years after he left the sport.

Di Resta will be on standby throughout the season to take over from Felipe Massa or Valtteri Bottas if needed.

Di Resta’s last F1 start: Brazil 2013
“Having competed in 58 Formula One races throughout his career Paul’s racing knowledge will be invaluable,” said deputy team principal Claire Williams. “We are also confident that given his recent Formula One and current DTM experience Paul will be able to confidently step into the FW38 and assist with our 2016 campaign.”

The 29-year-old raced for Force India between 2011 and 2013, peaking with fourth place in the 2012 Singapore Grand Prix and 2013 Bahrain Grand Prix. However at the end of 2013 he and team mate Adrian Sutil were dropped by the team to make way for their current line-up.

Di Resta returned to the DTM with Mercedes, who he won the championship for in 2010. He will continue to race in the series this year while also attending F1 races in his new role.

“It will be a busy year combining both driving in DTM with Mercedes AMG and attending the Formula One Grands Prix in my new reserve driver role,” said Di Resta. “I will be giving my full support to both.”

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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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29 comments on “Di Resta returns to F1 as Williams reserve driver”

  1. So who is Mercedes reserve driver? In case Lewis or Nicocant race? @keithcollantine

    1. Pascal Wehrlein

    2. @wil-liam,
      Wehrlein is still the reserve driver, Mercedes hasn’t declared otherwise yet.

    3. Kinda makes it weird. But I’m sure many drivers will voluenteer for a race in Mercedes… Imagine Webber on a one off race… Beating Lewiz/Nico.

      Well does Manor have a reserve driver?

      Good to see.

      1. @jureo Rossi is Manor’s reserve.

      2. @jureo Alex Rossi is the Manor Reserve Driver.

        1. Kk, so all teams are well covered. Was sad to see a williams nonstart last year.

          1. @jureo, I forgot, was that due the regulations or Williams simply chose to sit out?

          2. They had Susie Wolf ready to go, but choose not to run her for entire race.

    4. Will we see a few more replacement drivers in F1, now that in-ear accelerometers are compulsory, like the one that gave a reading and ruled Will Power out of the Indycar race yesterday? We saw some F1 drivers take big whacks in practice last year, Carlos Sainz springs to mind.
      Trouble is I still think the rules aren’t flexible enough, like when Bottas had to drop out last year at Melbourne, and Williams weren’t allowed to replace him.

      1. John Rymie (@)
        14th March 2016, 22:45

        The accelerometer (sp?) in Will’s car actually didnt register that high an impact, that’s why he was allowed to continue practice and qualify.

        I’m not sure if there’s a minimum impact that would rule a driver out of F1 or Indycar…likely just that they would have to undergo mandatory tests once a minimum impact was registered, likely what happened with Sainz last year (although he reported dizziness/blurriness the first few laps i think).

        It was too bad that Williams couldnt run the car last year but it was a function of the rules, not the lack of drivers i dont think.

  2. Good news, I hope di Resta replaces Massa as race driver next year.

    1. RaceProUK (@)
      14th March 2016, 10:34

      You’d want a multiple race winner who was almost a world champion to be replaced by a driver who’s best performances are best described as ‘above average’? I’m not sure I follow the reasoning.

      1. That was just the more realistic scenario. I think di Resta has more potential for the future than Massa but I will also be happy if Bottas joins Ferrari and Williams retains Massa and hires di Resta for 2016.

        1. Bottas was lauded as the next big thing, yet, he is somehow having trouble proving he is better than Massa. Maybe Massa isn’t as bad as people are making him out to be. He was just unfortunate to have spent 4 years as a teammate to the best driver on the grid during said driver’s best years. Perhaps, a perception of Massa as some sort of an average driver isn’t really doing him justice. Massa is a guy who didn’t have much trouble keeping up with Schumacher or Raikkonen, so I don’t think he will be bested by just anybody just because they are younger.

          1. He is kinda bested by Bottas.. To my eyes he is as good as any excellent driver.

            If any of them are not good enough, then maybe both are not good enough.

            As for Alonso, his car demands always seem to clash with teammate. Look at Ferrari now. So hard to judge Massa from that time.

            So Massa is about on level of Kimi, Button. So almost top tier.

            Who could Williams get that is wastly better?

          2. Massa was not far off Alonso in their time together until Germany 2010 when he got a psychological kick in the face. In 2008 in a car only marginally better than the McLaren he nearly beat a very good driver to the title.

            Di Resta is getting his foot in the door though should Massa retire this year.

        2. RaceProUK (@)
          14th March 2016, 12:43

          Ah, I see. And I agree di Resta has more potential, if only because he’s younger.

  3. In all honesty – I think this is their insurance policy to losing Bottas to a top team. F1 i think will have a big silly season this year, so many uncontracted drivers.

  4. It really didn’t make a difference to the sport when Di Resta left at the end of 2013, and now, I doubt his re entry makes any difference either. As long as Di Resta stops reminding us of how he beat Vettel in some junior category, and how he belongs at a top team, I think none of us have a problem with the guy

  5. He still has a superlicence because he competed in 15 races during the last 3 seasons (’13, ’14 and ’15), right?

    So if he doesn’t race in 2016 he loses it at the end of this year?

    1. “he competed in 15 races during the last 3 seasons ”
      I think this rule is dropped in the newest(final) vision.
      The new rules say that a superlicence is valid for 3 years, and after that, FIA can renew it. In other words, basically,a former SL holder can always get a new one if you need one.

  6. Good choice by Williams. Di Resta was a solid scorer at the end, and will likely have learned and grown since his last F1 stint so no more tantrums or moods I would expect.

    I would rather see him in the race seat than Massa tbh.

  7. Almost forgot about Di Resta. Potentially good move for both parties, I guess.

  8. Alternative headline: ‘Raikkonen no longer glummest F1 driver’.

    1. @keithcollantine How dare you talk like that about such a loveable driver? Stop that right now or I’ll start reviewing the 2006 F3 Euro Series season here :) :) :)

  9. Di Resta’s a safe pair of hands in case Bottas or Massa have to stand down for a race due to minor injuries or a suspension. They can’t run Alex Lynn in case of something so that’s where Di Resta comes in. Also he’s a Merc guy so that has to sit well with their engine supplier too, as a bonus.

    Whether this could pave the way for an F1 return in case Bottas goes to Ferrari or Massa retires at the end of the season, remains to be seen. It’s not impossible but Williams are not particularly out of better options either, be it Hulkenberg, Perez, Wehrlein if Merc decides to get him up the ladder, or even Rosberg if he finds himself replaced by Wehrlein at Mercedes.

  10. Not so long ago I remember F1 fanatics used to treat Di Resta as their favourite whipping boy for his less than favourable comments on Force India.

    How times change, can’t believe people are waiting for this loser to come back in F1.

  11. My question is: Where does this leave Alex Lynn? Not that I dislike Di Resta, I think he’s a talented driver, but Alex Lynn was one of the youngsters coming up that impressed me. I hope this doesn’t mean a closed door for him in Williams…

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