Scot Paul di Resta: F1 racer 26 | 01 | 2011

    SCOT PAUL DI RESTA was finally confirmed as a Force India Formula One racer today. The 24-year-old from Bathgate will partner German team-mate Adrian Sutil for the 2011 season, with ex-Williams driver Nico Hulkenberg filling the role as test and reserve driver.

    For Di Resta (watch Paul's interview), his graduation to a full race seat is a dream come true and confirms his status as one of the most talented, and sought after young racers in the world and today's announcement at the Glasgow HQ of team sponsors Whyte & Mackay was the culmination of a lifetime's work by him and his family.

    "My dad has dedicated his life, his time, effort, blood, sweat and tears to my racing career. He's the guy who used to work through the night to get my kart ready for the race the next day; I simply wouldn't be in Formula One if it wasn't for dad's dedication and determination."

    "It's a huge achievement in life and a big weight off my shoulders," Di Resta, who replaces Italian Tonio Liuzzi, admitted today. "When you've worked so long and so hard, as I have with my dad, Louis, to try and achieve the ultimate goal in my profession — building up through the ranks, from karting and the junior formulae — it's a big personal achievement for me.

    "In many ways it's difficult for me to put exactly into the words the way I feel and the depth of satisfaction I have being given the opportunity to embark on a race career path in Formula One.

    Support from my family has been incredible

    "It's not only a huge achievement for me, but also for my dad and my whole family.  My dad has dedicated his life, his time, effort, blood, sweat and tears to my racing career. He's the guy who used to work through the night to get my kart ready for the race the next day; I simply wouldn't be in Formula One if it wasn't for dad's dedication and determination. The support I've had from the whole family over the years has been incredible; it is now is my time to repay them for their support, love and belief."

    And the youngster, who becomes the first Scot on the F1 start line since David Coulthard retired in 2008, is flattered to be associated with his race heroes, world champs Jim Clark and Jackie Stewart.

    "Even to be mentioned in the same breath as Jim Clark and Jackie Stewart brings a tingle to my spine," he admitted. "They've always been heroes of mine and all I can do is strive to be the best I can and hopefully, one day be called world champion too."

    Di Resta, who shone in his role as test and reserve driver for the team last year — impressing Force India bosses with his drives in Friday morning practice sessions — will join Lewis Hamilton and the 2008 F1 champion's McLaren team-mate Jenson Button on the grid for the first grand prix of the year in Bahrain on March 13.

    Hectic schedule kicks off with testing next week

    Di Resta will also cross swords again with current world champion Sebastian Vettel, who was his team-mate when the Scot won the Formula Three Euroseries in 2006. And Di Resta heads into F1 having already tucked the highly competitive DTM Championship in his overalls having dominated the series last year with Mercedes.

    Singled out as a talent to watch some time ago when he was awarded the prestigious McLaren Autosport BRDC Young Driver of the Year Award in 2004, Di Resta can even boast racing royalty in his family; three-time IndyCar champion and double Indy500 winner Dario Franchitti is his cousin. And just for good measure, he's managed by none other than Lewis Hamilton’s father Anthony.

    Di Resta's hectic schedule kicks off almost immediately when he flies to Valencia next week for the first F1 three-day test session of the year starting next Tuesday. But Di Resta, who many in the pitlane are already tipping as a future Formula One world champion, is realistic about his goals for 2011.

    "Of course, ultimately the world championship is a goal," he continued, "but you have to be realistic; in Formula One, it's a bit more than just the driver. You certainly have to be in the right place at the right time, and right now I'm in the right place, at the right time and with the right team; and I know we'll all be working extra hard together as a team to develop into a World Championship-winning team.

    Past few weeks have been nerve-racking for me

    "Our ambitions are certainly higher than last year. We had a good car last year, finished seventh in the constructors' championship — missing out on sixth by just one point — so we're definitely aiming to finish higher than that. Ideally finishing fourth or fifth in the constructors' championship would be another great achievement for the team.

    "From a personal perspective, difficult to set yourself an ultimate goal. I think the nice thing would be to go into the first race happy; enjoy the experience; work very hard and try to achieve the maximum possible. I'm going in with an open mind; I'm going in to learn, but also to do the best I possibly can. 

    "I do have goals, but we'll just have to see how they pan out. Obviously I want to score as many points as I can for Force India this season to help them  achieve the best possible result.

    "The past few weeks have been nerve racking for me, my family and my management and I'm glad it is all over and finally out in the open. Now I know it is for real!  

    "What has been important is staying motivated about everything. In the background I've been training harder than I ever have, and as a result I'm fitter and stronger than I've ever been. I've just been getting myself ready for a very, very busy year."

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    Jim McGill

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