Force India F1 team boss Vijay Mallya has admitted that, while he would like to keep Paul di Resta on board for another season, it is unlikely that the team would stand in his way of a move to a bigger operation.
Although Force India has ambitions of moving out of the midfield, Mallya is aware that the his Scottish prospect has been mentioned in connection with seats occupied by two of the bigger names in the sport in recent years - Felipe Massa and Michael Schumacher - and says that any opportunity would be looked at even-handedly. With Massa struggling to live up to Ferrari expectation and Schumacher the subject of renewed retirement talk as he fails to match up to Nico Rosberg, the chance to move to either team would be an advance for di Resta, and Mallya accepts that it would not be beneficial to stand in his way.
“Paul is a huge asset and a very valuable asset to us," the Indian businessman explained to Reuters
, "We have secure contracts with both him and Nico [Hulkenberg], and we have an excellent relationship with both. Should they ever want to think of going elsewhere, I am sure they will come and tell us and it will be something that we will work out very amicably. I am not worried, there's no disruption that I anticipate at all."
Mallya, who came under fire from the media as he appeared at his first grand prix of the season in Monaco, said that he'd prefer continuity in his young line-up for 2013, having made changes in each of the last two seasons, with di Resta replacing Tonio Liuzzi in 2011 and Hulkenberg coming in for Adrian Sutil last winter.
“We'd love to continue with our current driver line-up," he stressed, “In fact, I am reading everything in the press. Nobody has come and officially communicated anything to us.”
Whether or not Mallya has seen the rumours, Sir Jackie Stewart has already suggested that di Resta would be the ideal replacement for Massa [see story here
], telling the BBC
that his fellow Scot would be the perfect understudy to Fernando Alonso.
Mercedes has also made no secret of its interest in di Resta should Schumacher decide to call it a day at the end of his current contract.
“Paul is on our radar," CEO Nick Fry admitted to Sky Sports News
, “He has done a fantastic job, he's a nice guy, he's a great team player and he would be one of the drivers undoubtedly that, if Michael were to decide he didn't want to continue, we would look at.”