F1: di Resta’s progression to a race drive looking good

By LJ Hutchins

CalendarThursday, March 4th, 2010

 
 

Is any team doing more to promote the future career of one of its reserve drivers than Force India?

Luckily for us, the beneficiary of this is young Scot Paul di Resta, a 23-year-old from West Lothian, who has long been tipped to make the move to F1 through his association with Mercedes.

Of course, as well as supplying engines to Force India and McLaren, it now runs its own F1 team. Given that di Resta has already proved his worth to the company in the tintop DTM series his progression to a grand prix race drive seems about as certain as it ever can be in such an unpredictable sport.

Force India has told Autosport that it wants to “nurture [di Resta’s] potential as a Formula 1 driver” with time on track during some Friday practice sessions where he is set to stand in for the team’s race drivers Vitantonio Liuzzi and Adrian Sutil.

Force India’s CEO Otmar Szafnauer, a former Honda F1 executive, said: “He is still a young man and it’s difficult to nurture that potential without in-season testing, so how do you do it? And one way to do it is to run him on Fridays.

“It could have the unintended consequence of pushing the race drivers a bit. Fine, nothing wrong with that. Back when most teams had third drivers, it didn’t cause any difficulties to the racing drivers in the teams.

“So I don’t think it will cause any discontent, but it is another input, and mainly is to give Paul some seat time. And how else could you do it?”

He did say that there were circumstances under which the needs of the race drivers would take priority, for instance when they needed to learn a new circuit.

He also used the opportunity to signal to Liuzzi and Sutil that the team expected them to raise their game for the 2010 season.

If any bookmakers are offering odds on di Resta driving in F1 for the 2011 season, now could be the time to take a look.

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