Sir Jackie Stewart has called on someone in Formula One to give his countryman Paul di Resta a race seat as soon as possible because he believes the young Scot can follow in his footsteps.

di Resta finally joins the F1 fraternity in 2010, having signed on as reserve for the Force India team after several seasons proving his ability in the DTM touring car series, but Stewart believes that the 23-year old is deserving of more than a development role

"Paul has already been very successful at many levels and being a reserve driver is good for the first year, but he has to step up and get a shot at a grand prix start," Stewart, a renowned dyslexic, told the Daily Record while opening Dumbarton's children's library, "I'm confident that, if he gets into F1 [as a race driver], 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 if he gets a chance. We have a great heritage of racing drivers here in Scotland, [and] Paul could be the next one to emerge - but he has to get in a car and he has to get regular starts."

Asked whether the youngster could follow in his footsteps - and those of another Scot, Jim Clark - Stewart was a little more hesitant, admitting that the former F3 Euroseries champion had the ability but needed to be in the right place at the right time.

"Is a potential world champion? Too early to say," he confirmed, "He has to deliver. If you are a striker, you need to score goals. If you are a racing driver, you need points and podiums and it's too early to ask that of him.

"I was lucky. I won two races in my first year, but I have seen young drivers try to develop and you don't want them to have to deliver too soon. They need time, the competition is fierce. Paul needs that time. He has to get a car and get starts, first against his team-mate as his car may not be as good as a Ferrari or McLaren.

"Fernando Alonso came into the sport with Minardi and no-one was going to win in one of those, but people saw what he could do. He got another drive in a decent car and became a two-time world champion.

"There is no doubt it's about hard work, focus, commitment, dedication, sacrifice - all the things any sportsman needs to do in order to reach the top, be it winning a grand prix or winning a gold medal in the Winter Olympics like Amy Williams. She put the hours in, she dedicated herself to do that. Whether the name is Steve Redgrave, Dario Franchitti, Jim Clark, Jackie Stewart, David Coulthard or Paul di Resta there can be no half measures, [but] it's tough with motorsport. You can play football, hit a tennis ball off a wall, we have athletes and golfers, but you need money for motor-racing."

Whether or not di Resta makes it to the grid, let alone the top of the F1 tree, Stewart admits that he is delighted to see the continuation of Scotland's heritage in the top flight.

"David Coulthard did very well indeed, winning 13 grands prix - the great Stirling Moss only won 16," the septuagenarian pointed out, "Dario Franchitti has won all over the world in IndyCars, Allan McNish has won Le Mans races, the late Colin McRae won everywhere in rallying, [so] we've done well. Scots have been waving the flag for so many years and, considering we are a wee country, we do pretty well."


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