The Scottish ace Paul di Resta will return to the Formula One paddock as Williams F1 reserve driver it has been officially announced today.
Di Resta made his Formula One debut in 2010 as reserve driver for Force India before stepping up to race driver in 2011. He went on to race in 58 Grand prix with the Force India team, amassing 121 points. He was dropped due to lack of funding at the end of the 2013 campaign and replaced by Sergio Perez. After which, he returned to the DTM with Mercedes where he last won a drivers championship, back in 2010.
Mercedes endured a torrid 2014 DTM season where di Resta could only manage three fourth places. However, in 2015, di Resta and the Mercedes squad saw a much more successful campaign with di Resta finishing the year as the next best Mercedes driver after champion Pascal Wehrlein, with three podiums and several top 10 finishes.
Despite hoping to return to Formula One, it appeared he was closed off from that world forever and had resigned to being an F1 pundit for British Sky TV. Nevertheless, the news today provides hope for, what many believe, was a huge F1 talent to return to the top flight after two years away, while balancing his duties with DTM.
According to the Williams F1 Team website, Paul will spend extensive time with the team at races to ensure he is fully accustomed to the controls and procedures of the Williams Mercedes FW38, should he be required to step into the cockpit during the season. He will also spend time integrating himself into the team with some simulator sessions to ensure he is fully prepared for his role this season.
Speaking about his new role Paul said: “I am delighted to be joining Williams as reserve driver and look forward to the 2016 season. It will be a busy year combining both driving in DTM with Mercedes AMG, and attending the Formula One Grands Prix in my new reserve driver role. I will be giving my full support to both and look forward to the exciting possibilities the year has ahead. I would like to thank Claire and Williams for the opportunity to be part of the team.”
Claire Williams, Deputy Team Principal of Williams Martini Racing added: “We are delighted to welcome someone with Paul’s experience to the team. Having competed in 58 Formula One races throughout his career Paul’s racing knowledge will be invaluable. We are also confident that given his recent Formula One and current DTM experience Paul will be able to confidently step into the FW38 and assist with our 2016 campaign.”
With the di Resta announcement, former reserve driver Adrian Sutil is left without a role within F1. Former teammate to di Resta, Sutil is rumoured to be looking into a driver role in the World Endurance Championship. Although Sutil never drove the car, with di Resta’s strong ties to Mercedes, he could well participate in selected free practice sessions as well as provide back up to race drivers Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa.
With Massa reaching the end of his career and Bottas hotly tipped to move to a bigger team in the coming years, a race driver role for Paul di Resta can’t be ruled out just yet.