Meet the next Briton tipped to break into Formula One

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The Independent Online

Paul Di Resta was well familiar with Silverstone long before he drove a Force India in yesterday morning's first free practice session.

The 24-year-old from West Lothian used to watch his cousin Dario Franchitti, the IndyCar champion and twice winner of the Indianapolis 500, race there when he was a child. "But I think the first time I was there was with my dad [Louis] when he was racing in the Superkart Grand Prix," he recalls. "I was very young – I can remember watching Dario testing in Vauxhall Junior, and then when he was racing in DTM [German Touring Car Masters]."

Today Di Resta is widely seen as the next Briton likely to race in Formula One, after his manager Anthony Hamilton – yes, Lewis's dad – won him the role as test and reserve driver for Force India, though currently the Silverstone-based squad has contracts with drivers Tonio Liuzzi and Adrian Sutil.

In his morning tests Di Resta has proved himself fast and mistake-free, well capable of doing the job. "There's always an element of pressure," he says, "but so long as I come back with the results it gives the team another impression of the car."

When your background embraces icons such as Jimmy Clark and Jackie Stewart, there's a lot to live up to. "I appreciate that history," Di Resta says, "and I hope one day I can be part of that. But I also have my own goals, and one of them is that I want to be world champion myself. Even when I was karting, it was 'could I be part of that?' rather than 'would it happen?'"

A self-contained, no-nonsense type, Di Resta seems formidably focused on those goals.