Paul di Resta, who not only has held his own while driving during Formula 1 Friday practices for Force India this year but also has been ripping it up Paul Charsley-style in DTM (meaning he’s been winning, whoa, you folks are mean!), is going to drive for Force India next year, Autosport has, voila!, revealed.
The question: Which seat will he take? Because neither Adrian Sutil nor Vitantonio Liuzzi are under contract, and both are therefore uncertainties. Sutil wants to move to a bigger team, with Autosport talking Renault but other rumors having him slotting into Mercedes if Michael Schumacher leaves. And Liuzzi? Well, he probably should be on the phone to Renault talking about how great Adrian is.
Here’s a little from Autosport:
Paul di Resta is set to graduate to Formula 1 as a race driver for Force India next season, today’s AUTOSPORT magazine reveals
The Scot, currently racing in the DTM, has impressed the team with his performances during his Friday practice outings this season after being recruited with the long-term aim of grooming him as an F1 race driver.
Although the Force India has yet to finalise its driver line-up for 2011, with question marks over both Adrian Sutil and Vitantonio Liuzzi, AUTOSPORT understands that the intention is to promote di Resta.
This might be today’s least unexpected news. Force India has been grooming the guy all year and, unlike other drivers being groomed who have, you know, zero talent, di Resta seems solid. And from the brief commentary I’ve heard from him, he’s also well spoken — again, he has the advantage of English being his first language. And, yes, I know there’s some sort of Scottish joke in there.
Honestly, as I said yesterday in my “2011 line-up” post, I’d pair Paul with Karun Chandhok and create some sort of politically incorrect colonial throwback team, but that’s just me. But a Paul/Karun team could be very fan friendly, which would help Force India stand out. And, unless things have changed this year compared to 2009, the team needs it. When I was at Monza in 2009, there was zero Force India merchandize, and the last time I checked they had very little online.*
See, here’s the thought: As the “new teams” settle in next year and creep closer to being competitive, there will be opportunity to claim the old “Red Bull” spot as the fun, fan-friendly, open team. Lotus could slot in, but not if they keep Heikki Kovalainen and Jarno Trulli (with today’s rumors suggesting they will). Virgin could take this, too — it would fit the company’s profile.
But I think Force India has the best shot, if they want it. Bring Karun in and just let the guy promote himself via Twitter and Facebook and whatever all off-season. He seems to like it, so let him roll with it.
But that’s just me. So, recap: Di Resta supposedly in at Force India. Sutil maybe gone.
* OK, so the Force India merchandise thing. I’m a bit of a fan, which I started last year mostly because it gave me a team to root for during Q1 — because if you’re a Ferrari fan, say, you know the team will get out of Q1… oh. OK, bad example. But anyway, it was more enjoyable to have a team to root for during the early parts of qualifying, which can get a bit formulaic. But I’m not die-hard, and I don’t really have a favorite team or even driver. (Yep, I’d actually hold myself up as the F1Ber who doesn’t have any “axe to grind,” unlike those axe-wielding Todd and Grace. I just like good racing and on-track battles. Monza this year was great fun.) But, before the “yoga retreat” that may, or may not, have been mentioned on a Podcast, I thought it would be fun to have a “Force India” shirt to wear. Could not find one I liked from the very limited selection. Fail, Force India!