Allan McNish sees no reason why fellow Scot Paul di Resta cannot find his way to a podium finish in the near future, claiming that the Force India driver is a more confident individual than when he started out in F1.
McNish, who was recently confirmed for an extended stint as an analyst with Sky Sports
' F1 coverage, praised di Resta, not only for leading Force India's charge over the past eight races, but also for shaking off the shackles of inexperience that sometimes caused him to come over as the stereotypical 'dour Scot' in his first full year as an F1 driver in 2011.
Throughout 2012, with the rapid Nico Hulkenberg replacing Adrian Sutil as his partner in the Force India line-up, di Resta has been the more consistent performer, racking up five points finishes in eight events - and only narrowly missing out on a couple more - to lead the German by ten points as the look to move the team up the constructors' standings. Their joint performance in Valencia was the best-ever for the team, with Hulkenberg's fifth place and di Resta's seventh - achieved, let it not be forgotten, on a single tyre change - adding 16 points to 28 already accrued over the previous seven races, and moving the Silverstone-based equipe
to within a point of Williams as it heads to its home race.
While he is not necessarily tipping di Resta to break the top three in this weekend's grand prix - or the next few for that matter - McNish firmly believes that his compatriot now has the air of a podium finisher.
"He is ready, most definitely," McNish told Crash.net
in the build-up to the Silverstone round, "So much depends on tyres and luck, but did anyone expect Pastor Maldonado to win in Spain, or Sergio Perez to come so close to winning in Malaysia?
"Paul's comments after his disappointing qualifying run in Valencia said a lot about him now. Admitting that it was 'my mistake' shows a certain confidence in himself, and a confidence in the team's faith in him. A driver under fire would not have said that - and it's a mark of how much confidence he has gained over the past few months."
Acknowledging that Force India would probably rather a dry race this weekend - in contrast to the gloomy forecast for the British Grand Prix - McNish also pointed to a statistic that suggests di Resta would be a contender for points at Silverstone.
"He has only had one
DNF in his entire F1 career!" he marvelled, "I have to admit that I was surprised to read that ahead of the race in Valencia. For a young guy in his situation - not having the comfort of a multi-year contract - that is impressive."