McLaren put Di Resta on standby if regular Mercedes reserves unavailable
Paul Di Resta could be in line for a shock return to Formula 1 after McLaren placed the former Force India racer on standby - should they require a reserve driver and the Mercedes Formula E duo of Stoffel Vandoorne and Nyck de Vries are not available.
McLaren have an arrangement with their engine supplier Mercedes that allows them to call on Vandoorne or De Vries, who share the reserve role of the reigning world champions, if their regular race drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris can’t compete.
But in the event that Mercedes’ Formula E commitments make them unavailable, McLaren boss Andreas Seidl says they have sorted an agreement with Di Resta, who is an analyst for Sky Sports F1, to drive their car.
“My focus is on this agreement we have with Mercedes. We have a good relationship also with Paul di Resta, who is also in possession of a super licence, so we have an agreement with him as well in order to jump in if the requirement is there,” said Seidl. “So we are prepared for different scenarios.
It comes after McLaren had Di Resta on standby for last year’s 70th Anniversary Grand Prix when it became clear Vandoorne was unavailable while the other Mercedes reserve at the time Esteban Gutierrez was not eligible for a superlicence at the time.
Di Resta last drove a Formula 1 car back in the summer of 2017 when, as Williams' reserve, he stood in for an unwell Felipe Massa in Hungary. In the past few year's he has driven for McLaren CEO Zak Brown's United Autosports team in various sportscar series, including at Le Mans.
The 34-year-old completed the last of his three full F1 seasons in 2013, nearly six-and-a-half years ago. Over 59 F1 starts, he has a best finish of fourth, which he achieved twice.
Teams moved to clarify their reserve options at the start of last year, given a positive Covid-19 test result would rule a race driver out of an event, as happened with Sergio Perez, Lance Stroll and Lewis Hamilton.
When asked how he would choose between Vandoorne and De Vries, should the situation arise, Seidl said: “That’s obviously something we would have to do with Mercedes depending on who is actually on standby for Mercedes for the specific weekend.”