Paul di Resta, Williams, Hungaroring, 2017

Di Resta “didn’t expect to be so close” after surprise return

2017 Hungarian Grand Prix

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Paul di Resta admitted he was surprised how competitive his qualifying performance was after returning to Formula One at short notice in the Hungarian Grand Prix.

Di Resta substituted for Felipe Massa after the Williams driver fell ill and qualified 19th on the grid, 0.7 seconds slower than team mate Lance Stroll.

Paul di Resta, Williams, Hungaroring, 2017
Hungarian Grand Prix qualifying in pictures
“It’s been a busy 18 hours,” said the Williams reserve driver. “I was ironing my shirt at 11 o’clock this morning preparing to be presenting on TV.”

Di Resta, who hadn’t driven the FW40 prior to qualifying said, “I quickly felt quite comfortable in the car.”

“There was nothing that took me by surprise, it’s just the more laps you can do, the better it is. Getting thrown straight into qualifying is the deepest of the deep ends.”

“To do it in four laps is a big ask, but honestly I didn’t expect to be so close straight away.”

Di Resta says he hasn’t deviated from any of the preparation work Massa had done. “I’ve carried on everything Felipe has done up until this session like the brake settings, the set-up and the steering wheel switches are all his, so of course it could be more optimised.”

“But there is more ability to progress in me, gaining the speed and confidence in the car. These cars are the most special thing you’ll ever drive. It’s a tough ask to go straight into qualifying, but that’s what it’s about and you take these opportunities.”

2017 Hungarian Grand Prix

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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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  • 36 comments on “Di Resta “didn’t expect to be so close” after surprise return”

    1. He did a fantastic job, wishing him the best for tomorrow.

    2. yes, hope he finishes, some points would be great.

      I like the way Claire Williams runs the team, not all teams use their reserve drivers, instead going for some pay driver or selling the seat instead.

      Well done Claire and Paul

      1. To be fair there wasn’t (much) time to sell the seats though.

        But yeah, it’s nice to see the reserve actually being used

        1. @davidnotcoulthard There wasn’t much time, but even an hour is enough for pay driver managers to start throwing money towards Williams.

          They all know there’s a slim chance, but even the slightest chance is worth it for some. Nonetheless I’m happy they went with Di Resta.

          1. Simon (@weeniebeenie)
            29th July 2017, 22:50

            Who would’ve been in Hungary though?

            1. Todd (@braketurnaccelerate)
              30th July 2017, 5:50

              @weeniebeenie – Giovinazzi

            2. I saw Jean Alesi, Lauda, Hill, Davidson.
              Seriously, DIR was the obvious choice. i hope he does well.

      2. Yes, although there is a good reason many teams put their reserve drivers in a test or practice session. Had Di Resta had just a few hours in the car this season, there is a chance he would’ve been in a slightly stronger position this weekend. So it’s an oversight in that regard, but otherwise excellent as you said

      3. What? They have one of the biggest paydrivers on their team… driving all season – hope you are joking

    3. Lance Stroll is breathing a sigh of relief that Di Resta didn’t beat him. That would have been a real blow.

    4. Make no mistake, that is a stunning effort by Di Resta. To jump straight into a 2017 car without so much as a practice session and be 0.7 seconds off any team-mate is nothing short of excellent. Throw into the mix that it’s Massa’s setup and it only looks better. Out-qualifying Ericsson is even sweeter.

      It does truly highlight the absolute lunacy of Formula One at the moment that a driver will be starting a Grand Prix tomorrow having driven only four laps since 2013. I’ve no idea how to rectify this… perhaps make FP1 for reserve drivers only across the board?

      I appreciate that this isn’t a complete novice we’re talking about, but it is a little crazy. Looking forward to seeing how he gets on tomorrow.

      1. Di Resta should never have been let go, that’s what. He’s tall, but he was always really good.
        There’s a few drivers that got the short end because of their height.

      2. Without any practice or setup work, 4 years out of F1 and getting the call up only an hour and a half before qualy….it’s a massively impressive performance from Paul.

        Hope he does well tomorrow! Maybe some team will pick him up for 2018 or even Renault to replace Palmer for the rest of 2017

        1. Di Resta did extremely well, and I’m very happy for him. I remember asking here, when Mercedes were looking to sign Bottas, why they didn’t sign Di Resta instead…he’s a fantastic driver, has a great attitude, and obviously has pace. Didn’t he beat vettel in the same car on the same team in the 2006 F3 series? I hope Massa gets well real quick, but i have to honestly say I want to see PDR driving more and more.

    5. I must say that his helmet blends perfectly with the car, unlike Felipe’s.

    6. Generally I don’t rate Di Resta very highly and have not really missed him being gone from F1. But, job well done today given such a tough (no matter how desirable) assignment. Hope he can avoid trouble in the race.

    7. Has he done a practice start at all?

      1. I guess he couldn’t really before doing qualifying laps, but when he came into the pita at the end of Q1 he stopped in the middle of the pitlane and did a kind of half-start, probably to get a sense of feeling for the clutch. But he can do a few ones when he leaves the pits for the grid tomorrow.

      2. He has done virtually no time in F1 cars since he lost his Force India seat back in 2013 and even then only a handful of laps in the 2014 spec Williams.

        Prior to quali, he had done absolutely no time in the current 2017 spec car at all and reeled his lap time down at a rate of 1/2 second per lap and was driving with Massa’s setup configuration (with the exception of having his seat and pedal setups altered)…

        His laps showed he does have some talent (maybe driving in DTC has given him much needed opportunity to hone his skills). Hopefully maybe enough to put him back onto the radar for a future drive..

    8. There’s all you need to know about the perpetuated myth that F1 cars are “so” hard to drive…

      1. @damon – To be fair Di Resta does have quite a bit of F1 experience already, just not with the current cars.

        Hopefully that reference won’t be made about Kubica when he completes his comeback to F1. I don’t rate Di Resta as highly as Kubica, but both have prior experience in F1 and I believe that does make a difference.

        1. Of course. And people make such a big deal about this year’s cars being soo different. Well, they’re not.

    9. Is the fact he was only 0.7 behind Stroll, proving that DiResta did a good job or put a question mark by Strolls qualifying Ability?
      A man who has not turned a wheel in anger in an F1 car since the end of 2013, was so close to Strolls pace after he has driven that car for a few 1000 race kilometers and 10 qualifying sessions already this year? Not to mention pre-season testing and his run of ‘prvate’ tests at the end of last year.

      Just saying.

      1. @thebullwhipper Yeah, that’s a fair point.

        Stroll himself is generally about 0.8s off Massa’s pace and Massa isn’t really a fast qualifyer himself. So I’d say if Bottas would have still been there he’d be 2 seconds off the pace (rather than 0.7 to Stroll). That would still be a very good job after a 4 year absence and no practice/setup work.

        1. @jeffreyj Sorry, but Stroll has been much closer to Massa than 0.8 seconds in the recent races. You can check the qualy results in Austria and Baku for proof. He seemed to be pretty close to Massa here as well.

          Considering Williams’ performance throughout practice, I’m sure there was at most two-tenths more in the car than Stroll managed.

          1. While being ill enough to skip the race.

    10. Since when has 19th been considered a good job?

      The British media are always so over the top about Di Resta.

      1. Did you even read the article? It tells you why 19th on the grid is considered a very good job in this situation.

      2. To answer your question: in these exact circumstances

    11. Very aware this won’t be comment of the day but while Di Resta did a very good job (let’s save the hyperbole for whatever Fernando wrings out each week thought) to get up to speed so quickly given the circumstances, it doesn’t justify him being considered for any seats next season – in my opinion he was pretty middle of the pack, it’s one thing to get round within a margin of your team mate that isn’t totally embarrassing, it’s another to competitive with others week after week.

      1. I feel that he is another driver, like Hulkenberg, that was held back by his size. They keep adding weight to these cars, and yet they can’t seem to find a way to lessen the impact of a drivers weight.

    12. So very important to note, that 0.7 was by his words very conservative, far from cars ultimate pace. It would probably be 1.5s off Massa pace.

      But in my eyes Paul is a safe pair of hands….

    13. Jorge Olivier
      1st August 2017, 0:38

      I’ve been wondering something since last night. Did di Resta race without a super license?
      He hasn’t raced in F1 in more than three years, so his old super license is expired.
      He doesn’t have the points for a new one.
      He hasn’t practiced 300 km in this year’s car in the last 180 days.
      He hasn’t taken part in FP1s.
      Am I missing something? I can’t find one particular regulation but in those I found I couldn’t find a justification for him having a super license. I know he is a capable driver, I’m just wondering if FIA didn’t follow its rules again.

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