Any hopes Bathgate’s Paul Di Resta harboured of racing in Formula One next season have been shattered after Force India confirmed it will retain its current driver line-up of Giancarlo Fisichella and Adrian Sutil for 2009.
There had been speculation that Di Resta, the 22-year-old who completed four days testing win McLaren-Mercedes earlier this year, would replace one of the drivers after McLaren entered a “technical partnership” with Force India.
As part of the deal, which will see the team use McLaren parts and be powered by the Mercedes-Benz engine, it was believed Force India would have to use a Mercedes contract driver.
And it was Di Resta, who led the Mercedes team in the German Touring Car Championship (DTM) this season and only missed out on the title in the year’s final race, who was expected to graduate to a race seat.
Force India boss Vijay Mallya, though, decided maintaining the same line-up — including retaining Antonio Luizzi as test driver — would give the team the best chance to make the most of their new technical partnership.
“I firmly believe next year will be a huge opportunity for this team,” Mallya said today. “We have a new technical partnership with McLaren and Mercedes, a dynamic new management structure and now one of the most solid driver line-ups on the grid.
“We certainly welcomed the insight and advice of our new partners in this matter, however the choice was entirely ours based on the current talent available in the market today.
“In Giancarlo, Adrian and Tonio we have a wonderful balance between experience and ambition, and now complete consistency.”
Di Resta will therefore continue to lead Mercedes’ assault on the German Touring Car Championship next season.
“My commitment remains to do everything I can to ensure Mercedes win the DTM championship next season and wrestle it back from Audi,” the talented young Scot said.
“Of course Formula One remains my ultimate target. I showed in the two tests I had with McLaren that I’m capable of racing in F1 and that’s ultimately where I want to be.”