In the middle of this week in an interview with newspaper The Scotsman, David Coulthard fears that former Formula One driver Paul Di Resta may never return to the grid in the sport unless he finds a role for this season. Di Resta was dropped by Force India at the end of 2013 and was unable to find a secure a new drive for this season and instead returned to the DTM series for this season.
Back in January when Di Resta made the announcement that he was confirmed to race in the DTM series for 2014, there was speculation that he would be taking a reserve driver role at the Mercedes F1 Team although no deal was confirmed or signed by either party. In an interview with Autosport, Di Resta stated the following:-
‘I think Mercedes are well aware that that’s where I want to be, and I have their full support. I’m keen to stay involved in F1, and I think I can bring things to a team because I’ve got the experience of being there. We’ll see how it goes, but at the moment there is nothing.’
Not many people were surprised that Di Resta was not confirmed by the Force India team for 2014. Even though Di Resta managed to out-qualify and out race his team mate Adrian Sutil last season, he was sadly not consistent enough in the middle of last season when he needed to be in order to retain his seat for this year.
And that is a shame as I do feel that when Di Resta is on form, he is a talented racing driver with a lot of potential. I do feel that he did perform and deserved a drive in the sport more than Sutil especially who I feel has been very lucky to gain a drive with the Sauber team for this season.
However a month later, nothing has come of those talks with Mercedes and Di Resta. As a result of this, Coulthard has stated that it is imperative that Di Resta finds a way to stay in F1 this season. Coulthard stated the following:-
‘I can definitely see an opportunity for Paul there, because Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff knows the DTM series very well. He knows Paul and brought him in because he knows he can do a job for Mercedes. DTM is important for Mercedes, and they haven’t won it since Paul took the title in 2010.
‘The F1 test/reserve role would be a big chance for Paul. He’s a known quantity. He can drive a racing car and he can drive it quickly. I hope he gets that opportunity. If he doesn’t, it might be difficult to find his way back into F1, simply because of the political and financial nature of the business.’
I agree with Coulthard and I do believe that Di Resta deserves to be in a role with the Mercedes team this year. He out performed Sutil last year at Force India, despite having a lapse in form during the middle part of the season. Di Resta has had a successful and competitive racing history with Mercedes within his motorsport career that would prove beneficial to them alongside his experience that he has gained from his career in the sport so far.
There is no question that if Di Resta was offered the chance to stay in Formula One with the Mercedes team as a Test or Reserve drive, he would grab the opportunity with both hands. He would bring a lot to the team I feel if he gained a role within the Mercedes team this year. Di Resta has shown within his two years of Formula One that if he is provided with the tools and the equipment and has luck on his side, he can perform well and consistently.
However, there are many young and talented drivers in Driver Development Programmes with current teams that are waiting in the wings that are waiting just like Di Resta is for a chance to test and race in the pinnacle of motorsport. Even though I believe that Di Resta is more than worthy to receive a test or reserve role within the Mercedes team, the chances of him achieving this is looking very slim.
And that is a shame for Formula One. Di Resta is a very talented racing driver and has shown when that when he can put everything together successfully, he can deliver and perform well. But will Mercedes give Di Resta the chance that he thoroughly deserves? We shall see.