When Paul di Resta landed a race seat at Force India for the 2011 season, many people had high expectations. The previous year he had impressed the team during his frequent first practice session outings, which he completed alongside his DTM campaign. That year he won three races in a row and went on to win the DTM championship.
Although this was considered an unusual route into Formula 1, nobody could deny the Scot’s talent in single-seaters. In 2006 he beat current Formula 1 World Champion Sebastian Vettel to the Formula 3 Euro Series championship.
Di Resta’s debut season in Formula 1 was reasonably mediocre. He scored 27 points, 15 less than team mate Adrian Sutil. He did however manage a sixth place finish, matching the German’s best result that season. He was showing some signs of potential.
The following seasons he was paired with Nico Hulkenberg. This was a testing season for both drivers. They were similarly matched based on their current careers and both were considered drivers to watch.
Again, Di Resta finished the season behind his team mate. He scored 46 points, compared to Hulkenberg’s 63. However both drivers scored a best finish of fourth place.
The Scot clearly had raw speed and a lot of talent. However he appeared to lack the consistency of his team mate, who would often finish in the points when di Resta did not.
With his strong connections with Mercedes, many thought he was in line to replace Michael Schumacher. However the team opted for Lewis Hamilton instead. Although this meant a seat was vacant at McLaren, who have strong ties with Mercedes, the team quickly chose Sergio Perez as a replacement for Hamilton. Di Resta missed out on a seat at any of the top teams.
However he managed to retain his place at Force India for another season, once again lining up against Adrian Sutil. Although it was believed that di Resta had to make an impression in 2013, it was not widely thought that it would be a make or break year. But it was.
A promising start to the year saw him narrowly miss out on a podium in Bahrain. Things took a turn for the worse when Pirelli changed their tyres. Force India struggled, with both drivers complaining about the car. Although he almost managed a shock pole position in Belgium, di Resta finished out of the points for seven consecutive races.
Again, many of the top teams cited di Resta as a driver they were considering. But once again he missed out and di Resta will not be on the grid in 2014. So where did it ultimately go wrong?
Di Resta is an honest and at times outspoken character who is not afraid to criticise his team when they make mistakes. Teams would be unwilling to have a driver who fails to accept responsibility. They want someone who has a win-and-lose-together attitude.
Di Resta also lacks the financial backing that is so attractive to teams. They would rather have a driver who is fast and brings money, such as Pastor Maldonado, than a driver who is merely fast.
It is still difficult to say whether di Resta deserves a seat in Formula 1. Yes he is quick, but it also inconsistent. As to whether we’ll see him return, it looks unlikely. It looks like di Resta will merely be another promising driver who has failed to turn heads in Formula 1.
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