One of the revelations of the 2011 season has been has been the rookie Paul di Resta. The young Scot, who happens to be the cousin of IndyCar champ Dario Franchitti, replaced Tonio Liuzzi this year, and is now partnering Adrian Sutil, at Force India. Thus far, on balance, he has outperformed the more experienced Sutil, which naturally is already fueling gossip regarding di Resta’s next career move.
Di Resta has essentially been waiting in the wings for the last few years, honing his skills (and biding his time) in the German DTM touring car series, waiting for an opportunity to open up in Formula 1. Opportunities by themselves, of course, aren’t enough to make great drivers. A driver must be able to rise to the occasion, and this far it looks as though di Resta has done just that.
That being the case, it’s only natural that talk has already surfaced that the organization that has nurtured his career thus far, Mercedes, has taken a long term interest in providing a home for him.
Of course, Mercedes currently has two marquee drivers under contract, i.e. Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg, but as Schumacher himself has said, there are few question marks currently regarding his own career, which implies that his seat will become vacant at the end of next season.
Although Norbert Haug has paid lip service to extending Schumi’s contract, it now appears that while this could happen, the extended contract isn’t likely to involve driving. By the time his current contract ends, Schumi will be staring at the business end of 45 years of age, and it’s more than likely that he’ll be willing to hang up his driving gloves, and will don his corporate ambassador’s mantle again.
In the mean time, di Resta will have developed his F1 skills, which means that he’ll still be on the upward slope of his performance curve, but won’t be priced out of affordability.
Di Resta hasn’t exactly come from nowhere, however. He was once the team mate of current world champ Sebastian Vettel when both were cutting their teeth in Formula 3, and he came out ahead of the German wunderkind. While Vettel, a Red Bull protege, was able to move on to F1, di Resta graduated to the DTM, where, he finished fifth, second, third and first in the championship over four successive years.
Mercedes motorsport honcho Norbert Haug recently complimented di Resta, saying, “We always knew he was a very good and very talented guy, and when he gets in the right groove – we saw it in DTM – it can be very special for him. “F1 will be very good for him, I think. His team-mate is tough, the speed is quite impressive and he is doing a good job. We are pleased we helped him in his junior career.”
Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, di Resta responded by saying, “Obviously I am close to Mercedes. They have had a huge influence on my career and I’m very grateful to them. It is great that people are talking but at the same time I have got to keep progressing. Force India have given me a great opportunity and delivered what they said they would. Hopefully I am delivering what they hoped I would deliver for the team.”
Side note: While it seemed as though Anthony Hamilton might be out of work after son Lewis dismissed him from his position as Hammy’s manager, it now turns out that Hammy, Sr is now a feature of the paddock again, this time as di Resta’s manager.