Paul di Resta
Paul di Resta may be amongst Formula One Racings new wave of young drivers, but he already boasts a very strong racing CV. Born in Scotland in 1986, he began karting as soon as he was allowed and quickly proved his racing credentials, winning a plethora of Scottish, national and European titles whilst still in his teens.
In 2002 he made the switch to single seaters, initially tackling the UKs Formula Renault Winter Series before securing a full-season drive in the championship in 2003. A second season in the series in 2004 proved his most successful, scoring four wins on his way to third in the title race. He was swiftly singled out as a talent to watch and was awarded the prestigious McLaren Autosport BRDC Young Driver of the Year Award in 2004.
Flushed with success, Di Resta moved to the competitive Formula Three Euroseries in 2005. After finishing 10th in his debut year, he stayed for a second season in 2006. Five wins and four podiums with ASM saw him take the title, against a field that included future Formula One world champion Sebastian Vettel. He additionally won 2006s Ultimate Masters of F3 at Zandvoort.
With backing from Mercedes-Benz, Di Resta switched from single seaters to the highly-regarded DTM championship in 2007. Despite driving a two year-old car during his debut season, he finished fifth overall after claiming four podium finishes. He was then given a full Mercedes works drive in 2008, winning twice and narrowly missing out on the title.
He remained in the ultra-competitive German touring car series in 2009 with Mercedes, finishing third overall with one win. But after three seasons of near misses, he finally clinched the DTM title in 2010, with three wins and a further four podiums, fending off fellow F1 tester Gary Paffett in the process. His first championship in four years, it was a moment to relish, but Di Resta already had his eyes trained on a different ambition - a Formula One race drive - and hed already made a start.
In 2009, he had been selected by Force India to join their end-of-season young driver test, alongside Indy Lights champion JR Hildebrand. Di Resta was thrilled with the opportunity, and Force India were just as impressed with his feedback. They quickly signed him up as the teams test and reserve driver for the 2010 season, with an agreement in place that he would attend every Grand Prix and participate in a number of Friday practice sessions to get properly acquainted with the car and the circuits.
Force India delivered on their promise, with Di Resta taking part in eight Friday sessions over the course of the year, alongside his DTM commitments. More often than not, it was his first time driving at the tracks, but that didnt stop him consistently getting close to the pace of the teams race drivers Adrian Sutil and Vitantonio Liuzzi, even beating the latter on one occasion. More significantly, Di Resta made very few mistakes and racked up 179 laps in the VJM03 cockpit.
His efforts were rewarded when, after months of off-season speculation, Force India finally announced in January that he would race alongside Sutil for the 2011 season. Racing is obviously in the blood for Di Resta (four-time IndyCar champion Dario Franchitti is his cousin) and the man from Uphall quickly had the F1 media taking notice after he scored on both his first and second Grand Prix appearances, out-qualifying his experienced team mate on both occasions.
He didnt quite have the maturity to match Sutil over a full season, but a sixth place in Singapore, 13th in the driver table and 27 points made him a clear winner in the rookie of the year stakes and secured his place with Force India for another year.
2012 was to prove another season in which Di Resta fought tooth and nail with an evenly-matched team mate, Nico Hulkenberg. The Scot had the measure of the German over the first part of the season, but despite a superb fourth-place finish in Singapore, he was outpaced by Hulkenberg in several races towards the end of the year and eventually finished 17 points behind his colleague.