Rookie Report 2011: Paul di Resta

Is he, isn’t he? That was the big question on everyone’s lips since the end of last season. And today he has been announced as Adrian Sutil’s teammate for the 2011 season, replacing the outgoing Vitantonio Liuzzi.

The long awaited confirmation from Force India was no doubt due to the legal issues surrounding Liuzzi’s contract, which was valid for the 2011 season. Di Resta is another rookie with racing in the family genetics, one cousin, Dario Franchitti, is an IndyCar champion and the other, Marino Franchitti is focusing on Le Mans.

So how did he end up at Force India?

Like most drivers his first taste of racing came at the karting track, he raced in a variety of series for around 8 years, between 1994 and 2001. With the racing bug firmly under his skin he graduated to the British Formula Renault Winter Series in 2002, then to the full series in 2003 finishing that year in 7th. 2004 turned out to be a busy year, still competing in Formula Renault UK (coming 3rd), he was invited to some races in the Formula Renault 2000 Eurocup due to his impressive results.

Vettel and di Resta (F3 2006)

Formula 3 beckoned and he answered the call in 2005 and joined Manor Motorsport. Although he finished the season in 10th, we won the McLaren Autosport BRDC Young Driver of the Year. He continued his good form into the 2006 season and won both the Formula 3 Euroseries and Masters of Formula 3 series.

Di Resta left the prescribed route into Formula One and began a successful stint in the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (DTM). In 2007 he drove for Persson Motorsport and came 5th. He spent the next three seasons with HWA Team and earned a 2nd (2008), 3rd (2009) and in 2010 he won the title.

Winning the DTM title

He was close to a F1 seat in 2009 after a test drive with McLaren lead to an opportunity with Force India. But sharing Mercedes engines (he drove a Mercedes in DTM) only got him so far, but a driver switch got di Resta the test seat with Force India for the 2010 season. A regular participant in Friday practice  sessions, while also winning the DTM series, drove the rumours that he would replace Vitantonio Liuzzi for this season.

After such a drawn out wait between the beginning of the rumours and the final confirmation, will the media focus scupper any chance of a decent rookie season? Highly unlikely, but there might be a few detractors saying that Nico Hulkenberg or Karun Chandhok deserved the seat, but F1 is a fast moving sport where results matter to the sponsors. And sponsors keep the factories ticking over. Di Resta and the term ‘pay driver’ have not entered the equation, and the focus has soley been on the talent his possesses and what he can bring to the team. Refreshing.



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