With a number of Formula One drivers falling off the grid every year, it’s easy to forget a few of the good names who slipped through the cracks. Paul Di Resta had a short but sweet stay in the pinnacle of motorsport. He spent three seasons in F1, all with Force India, despite never winning a race nor making the podium, the Scot displayed some occasions of pure pace.
Di Resta made his name in Germany, after winning the 2006 Formula Three Euro Series, the Scot moved to the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters, aka DTM. It was with the KWA team he joined in 2008 where he really flourished. He finished runner up in the championship to Audi’s Timo Scheider in his Mercedes in 2008, while 2009 saw Di Resta finish third in the championship standings.
2010 was his year, and perhaps the finest year of his career so far. The Scot took three consecutive wins on the way to the DTM crown in his Mercedes. However his next step had begun almost a year before hand. He was a test driver for the McLaren Formula One team, and nearly had his Formula One break in 2009.
He was in talks to make his Formula One debut in 2009, with Force India, but the team instead stuck with Giancarlo Fisichella and Adrian Sutil, with Vitantonio Liuzzi as reserve. In December 2009 he was given a test at Jerez in the Force India. He shared the car with American IndyCar driver J. R. Hildebrand as Fisichella had moved to Ferrari to deputise for the injured Felipe Massa, while Liuzzi and Sutil were the race team drivers. This test saw Di Resta become Force India’s test and reserve driver for 2010.
Paul was handed a few first practice sessions to participate in. He took part in a run of Grands Prix, stretching from Australia, Malaysia, China and Spain. He sat out the next few races and made a return at Valencia for the European Grand Prix. Further appearances at Silverstone, Hungary and Italy were enough to see Di Resta promoted for 2011, with Liuzzi being dropped.
His first race saw him score his first point, at the Australian Grand Prix. He managed tenth due to both Saubers being disqualified. He scored another tenth place finish in Malaysia, which meant a strong start to the season for the rookie. The Scot scored a few points finishes to cap off a strong season, including; seventh at Hungary, eighth at Italy, Singapore saw him finish sixth, before a string of points finishes at the end of the season. He ended the season on 27 points, and 13th in the Championship standings.
2012 saw much more of the same from the young Scot, as another string of points finishes ensued. He did however take his career best finish. At the Singapore Grand Prix, thanks to two late retirements, he finished fourth, which would be the best finish of his Formula One career. The worrying thing for Di Resta was that his team mate, Nico Hulkenberg was impressing in the sister Force India. Hulkenberg was leading the race in Brazil for a time until he collided with McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton.
2013 was make or break for Di Resta, as he only had a few more chances to impress, Hulkenberg departed to Sauber, which saw Adrian Sutil return to the team after a ban for assault. With seven points finishes in the first eight races of the season, including an impressive fourth at Bahrain, things were looking good for Di Resta. However after Force India struggling with the Pirelli tyres, Di Resta was forced to retire from five consecutive races, which saw him dropped for the 2014 season.
After Sergio Perez’s sacking by McLaren, Force India snapped him up, and he partnered Hulkenberg, who effectively swapped seats for Sutil, as he moved to Sauber. As for Paul he returned to DTM with Mercedes. He managed three fourth placed finishes, at Oschersleben, Nurburgring and Hockenheim, finishing 15th in the standings with 36 points. Meaning Di Resta hasn’t stood on a podium since the 2010 DTM finale at Shanghai.
This name was soon forgotten in the Formula One world, but at one point the Scot showed real promise and if his Force India was more reliable in the second half of the 2013 season, he may have been retained. But he now tries to rebuild his reputation in Germany, looking back on what could have been.
Formula One Career - Force India 2011-2013
Starts - 58
Wins - 0
Poles - 0
Points - 121