Bathgate’s Paul di Resta flies to Bahrain tomorrow to start the build-up to the opening Formula One grand prix of the season. And the 23-year-old Scot has been bolstered by the praise and encouragement he received this week from three-times world champ Sir Jackie Stewart.
“Sir Jackie said some nice things about me and it’s fantastic he is aware that I am taking my first step on the F1 ladder,” Di Resta, who heads to Bahrain as Force India’s official reserve and test driver, said today.
Stewart, who was in his home town of Dumbarton last week, spoke highly of Scotland’s latest Formula One driver.
“I know Paul’s very talented, from the success he’s already achieved, but he mustn’t be put under too much pressure too soon,” Stewart said. “Paul will gain a huge amount of knowledge about F1 this year in his current role.
“But when he gets that first chance as a race driver in a grand prix, he has to be ready to grab the opportunity with both hands.
“I’m confident that when he gets into an F1 race he will do very well. He’s highly skilled and has a good Scottish canniness about him. I don’t think he will trip up when he gets the chance.“ Di Resta, meanwhile, admitted the comments were a boost.
“He’s a legend in the sport and to be acknowledged by him is a great boost for me,” he said. “This is just the start of my Formula One journey, but if I can get even anywhere near Sir Jackie’s achievements in my career I’ll know I’ll have done well.”
While the 70-year-old F1 ace won 27 of his 99 grands prix starts, Di Resta heads to Bahrain this week knowing he will driver his Mercedes-powered Force India car during Friday’s official free practice session.
“It’s going to be a big day in my career,” the talented youngster, tipped to graduate to a full F1 race seat next season, continued. “I’ve driven the car at the recent F1 test session at Jerez, and I was there for the test in Barcelona, but this will be my first full F1 race weekend.
“Not only will I drive the car on Friday but I will sit in on all the driver briefings and debriefings, I’ll be involved in deciding how the cars are set-up for the race and, essentially, I have to be ready to race if one of our drivers become unfit to race.”