Paul di Resta has admitted that his recruitment by Force India as test and reserve driver in F1 2010 is 'all a bit of a dream' and the product of his unstinting belief in his own ability to make it – and confessed that had he failed to break into the top flight in one form or another, he would 'never really have settled'.
Off the back of a hugely impressive test outing for the Silverstone-based squad at Jerez during the special young drivers sessions in December – lapping inside the top four throughout, and second-quickest on two of the three days – di Resta was finally officially confirmed at Force India F1 last week, and it is, he reflects, the realisation of a long and arduous but very rewarding journey.
“First you've got to say it was the biggest day of my career so far,” the 23-year-old is quoted as having said by the BBC
and The Scotsman
. “It's all a bit of a dream. I've come a long way since my early days in karting, but I've always believed I would make it to Formula 1. That's the dream I've always had and thanks to all the help I've had from my family, I'm now part of the Formula 1 family.
“This is a huge opportunity for me, something I've waited a very long time to try and achieve; to be joining a leading team like Force India is fantastic for me! This is another step towards me being on the starting grid for a Formula 1 grand prix.
“I've put a lot of hard work into it and I'm thankful; we've been able to go forward with Force India and move forward hopefully into something better in the near future. It's going to be a difficult challenge and hopefully I can take in – from all the other drivers on the track – the experience when I'm in this environment.
“It's a very personal feeling and it's very difficult to explain; I'm more excited inside than I probably show, but it's just a tremendous credit, especially to my father who has helped me a tremendous amount and without his help I wouldn't be here. I'm very excited, personally, to go forward with this and hopefully we can build on this for the future, to stay in Formula 1.”
The cousin of twice IndyCar Series Champion Dario Franchitti looked to be on the fast track to future superstardom when he defeated current Red Bull Racing star and expected F1 title contender Sebastian Vettel to the 2006 F3 Euroseries laurels, but when the money ran out Mercedes-Benz stepped in, adding the West Lothian ace onto its young driver programme and placing him into its DTM team.
Over the intervening three seasons, di Resta has triumphed on three occasions and challenged for the drivers' title, and he will remain in the pan-European touring car series for a fourth consecutive campaign in 2010, when championship glory is very much on the agenda.
As he prepares to try out Force India's new machine at Jerez on 19 February, though – and readies himself to dovetail his DTM title-chasing duties with his Friday testing duties for Force India at some of the 19 grands prix – it is clear that the former McLaren/Autosport BRDC Young Driver of the Year's
eye is very much on the bigger picture.