Paul di Resta: Scot who outshone Vettel ready for the race of his life

He beat the German world champion in Formula Three and hopes to improve on an impressive start to his F1 career at Silverstone

Somewhat overlooked in the midst of all the pre-British Grand Prix Hamilton/Button hype is the superb job that fellow countryman Paul di Resta has done in his eight grands prix this season for Force India.

Before starting the Australian GP in March, the 25-year-old Scot made no bones about his aim to challenge team-mate Adrian Sutil, the young German with a reputation for moments of blinding speed allied to the occasional instance of brain fade. "I would hope to be on the same pace as him, to be quicker than him from the start," he said. "He's my team-mate, and that's always the first person you judge yourself on, so I'll be doing my utmost to be in front of him. I want to be quicker than him."

The comment was made matter-of-factly, without any intention of raising expectations.

The record shows that he achieved his goal of outqualifying Sutil on his debut, and that it was not until the fourth race of the year that the German turned the tables. And that in their eight Saturday afternoon encounters thus far, di Resta has been faster on six occasions. On his birthday in China in April he put his Force India eighth on the grid, proving convincingly that he deserves his seat.

That Australian race saw him score a point for 10th place, a result he repeated in Malaysia, and though there have been slim pickings since as Force India's development pace fell behind others', his races in Monaco and Montreal further underlined his potential.

"It was very positive at the beginning," he says. "Some highs and lows, but generally I'm quite pleased with it. I've been competitive with my team-mate and I am building on that. I've not raced on a lot of the tracks we visit, and these guys have lots of experience and I respect that, but hopefully I can just be in the mix and be competitive among them."

Di Resta is fast, self-contained and a quick learner. And he doesn't fool himself. He's well aware that he's still climbing a steep learning curve.

"Eight Friday mornings isn't much on which to judge somebody," he says, of the experience he got as Force India's third driver last year. "That was a difficult challenge, especially as I hadn't driven on any of the tracks and I was in somebody else's car. It was always difficult to decide just how to approach those sessions. You had to do it with care, but at the same time you had to be quite aggressive, yet at the same time you only had one set of tyres. You could have gone from hero to zero."

The situation is different this year, now that he's the regular team driver. But there's still that incongruous yet canny blend of innate caution and raw speed. "You're always learning as a racing driver," he says, "and the biggest thing in F1 is confidence, and building it up the right way. You probably start a little bit on the safe side at the beginning of the weekend and keep building up, that's the best way to go forward. In terms of driving it's different to what I've been used to, driving touring cars in the DTM. But it's good fun and I'm willing to put in the hard work to be in F1."

As an example of the latter, he walked the 3.7-mile track yesterday morning, to check out first-hand the surface variations and nuances. "One of the things I noticed was the wind on the exit to Copse and Stowe corners, which could make things interesting..."

Extraordinarily, for a British driver, he has very little experience of his home track. Bar the hour and a half Friday morning session last year, he hasn't driven it much.

"Actually, I've only raced here once, because I went racing in Europe very young, so I suppose my biggest memory here was driving an F1 car on the national track as part of the British Racing Drivers' Club/Autosport Young Driver Award some years back. The track layout has changed a lot since then. Now Silverstone is very fast, and not easy, but we had a reasonable session in the team's simulator this week and I hope that I can capitalise on the Friday morning experience I had here last year."

It is, he readily admits, a "massive weekend", racing in front of his countrymen for the first time. Naturally, Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button will draw much of the sell-out crowd's attention, but British race fans are a generous bunch and they will be cheering him on enthusiastically. "Obviously this is the biggest race of my career so far," he adds, "and I'm proud to be part of Jenson and Lewis, our back-to-back British world champions, part of this generation, on this revamped track. It's been a lot of hard work to get this far, and the British weather won't make it straightforward, but I'll be doing my best to keep going forward."

While he may be the third-string Brit at this stage of his career, you get the impression that this suits a private man, who will be quite content to linger in the shadows – until such time as he has the equipment to run wheel-to-wheel again with the likes of world champion Sebastian Vettel, whom he vanquished in their days as Formula Three team-mates.

The rise of Di Resta

April 1986 Born in Livingston.

1994 Begins competing in Cadet Karting Championship.

2002 Rises to British Formula Renault Winter Series.

2004 Named 'Young Driver of the Year'.

2005 Moves up to Formula Three, finishing 10th in Euroseries behind Lewis Hamilton. Wins title the next year.

2007 Switches to touring cars.

2009 Tests with F1 outfit Force India.

2011 Makes F1 debut in Australian GP, finishing 10th – his best result.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events business) - Central Manchester - £20K

£18000 - £20000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events busi...

Recruitment Genius: Project Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This privately-owned company designs and manuf...

Recruitment Genius: Human Resources Officer

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen at th...

Ashdown Group: HR Manager - London - £40,000 + Bonus

£36000 - £40000 per annum + Bonus: Ashdown Group: HR Manager (Generalist) -Old...

Day In a Page

Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace