He's the new Scottish star of Formula 1 but Paul di Resta hasn't taken the conventional route to take a drive in the sport with Force India...
After plenty of karting as a youngster, Formula Renault was the first experience of open wheel racing for the man from West Lothian in 2002. Three years later the step up to F3 followed and he would also win the McLaren Autosport BRDC young driver of the year award. A great achievement and one which gave him the opportunity to test a McLaren F1 car. Plenty is made of him beating Sebastian Vettel in F3 in 2006 and certainly that showed that he had good potential. It should be noted however that Vettel also had commitments in 2 other series, including test driver for BMW in Formula 1.
However di Resta's career would take an unusual turn as he ended up driving in DTM in 2007 for Mercedes. This is basically the German equivalent of the British Touring Car Championship in the UK. On paper it is a strange move to make for someone who wants to get into Formula 1. Former Grand Prix winner David Coulthard has described the two series as very different in driving style. What has proved beneficial for di Resta is the building of a relationship with Mercedes. Customer of the German company Force India allowed the 24 year old to gain some experience in 2010 by being the teams reserve driver. He travelled to all the races with the team and took part in 8 practice sessions. He drove at a competitive pace and didn't suffer any major dramas and generally impressed.
Now he steps up to the true test of a race seat. Losing out is Vitantonio Liuzzi. The Italian had a deal with the team but has been replaced after a difficult seat. It's been the story of his career, flashes of brilliance but often flattering to deceive. Certainly he had some car issues at times but also made errors and was regularly outpaced by Adrian Sutil. His F1 career is now on the brink and he will find it difficult to find a new seat. Can di Resta shine where Liuzzi didn't? Time will tell but i believe that pace wise he can be close to Sutil, it will be how good his racecraft is which will be the major test.
Image courtesy of http://www.forceindiaf1.com