While Paul di Resta no doubt earned a shot at the second Force India ride for 2011 through his DTM title and strong Friday morning performances at eight grands prix last season, but it transpires that there may have been more to his deal than meets the eye.
According to an interview with the Scot in Britain's Independent
newspaper, his position may have been helped by support from Mercedes - for whom he raced in the DTM and F3 - and the offer of free KERS technology for Vijay Mallya's midfield team. As a result, di Resta's stock immediately rose above that of F1 veteran Tonio Liuzzi, despite the Italian still having a year to run on his contract.
While the former F3 Euroseries champion slots in alongside Adrian Sutil at Force India this season, Liuzzi finds himself struggling to make the field with backmarker HRT, which he joined on the eve of the season. Along with F1 returnee Narain Karthikeyan, Liuzzi has had to wait for the new F111 to be ready to run, and then struggled to complete a lap in free practice at the Australian Grand Prix.
di Resta, meanwhile, is hoping for better, aiming to take on his team-mate in a bid to prove that he deserves his place on the grid.
"I'm not going to say a target as there are so many variables," he said ahead of the Melbourne weekend, "All I know is that the team has high hopes of finishing higher than last year, which means at least sixth, and I have my part to play in this. Regular points are of course key, but let's build up to that."