As expected when his F1 dream started to fade late last season, Paul di Resta will return to the Mercedes-Benz fold in the 2014 DTM.
The Scot found himself as the odd man out at Sahara Force India when former team-mate Nico Hulkenberg was paired with McLaren refugee Sergio Perez for 2014, but was always tipped for a likely return to the series that helped propel him towards the top flight after his single-seater career stalled at F3 level.
di Resta's previous spell in touring cars, between 2007-10, saw him record six race wins, six pole positions and seven fastest laps from 42 races, capped off by landing the 2010 DTM title at the season finale in Shanghai. That success prompted the Mercedes-assisted switch to F1, where he contested 58 grands prix for Sahara Force India between 2011-13, scoring 121 championship points.
"It feels really good to be back in the DTM and to see so many familiar faces again,” di Resta commented, “The DTM is a fantastic racing series with three strong premium brands, a very competitive field and a very evenly matched bunch of drivers. I'm really looking forward to working with the whole Mercedes-Benz DTM team and being part of another championship challenge.”
Although di Resta's preparation for 2014 will begin in earnest during his Portuguese 'debut', the Scot has not been idle, getting to grips with the latest C-Class DTM machine ahead of his test.
The relationship between di Resta and Mercedes goes back further than the DTM, however, with the Scot winning a title in the McLaren Mercedes Champions of the Future kart series in 2000. He subsequently became a Mercedes-Benz junior driver four years later, moving up to the F3 Euroseries in 2005 and winning the title in his second season, beating off competition from no less than future four-time F1 world champion Sebastian Vettel.
di Resta's return ensures that Mercedes-Benz will field two former DTM champions in Daimler's 120th year of competition, with the Scot lining up alongside 2005 title winner – and long-time McLaren Mercedes f1 test driver - Gary Paffett. di Resta is also one of seven former DTM champions who have so far confirmed their participation in the 2014 season. He will get his first taste of the latest Mercedes AMG C-Coupé in Portimao today [Tuesday] in preparation for the opening round at Hockenheim over the weekend of 3-4 May.
“Much has changed since my last DTM race in Shanghai in 2010, with new cars, a new set of rules and a third manufacturer, but what has not changed is my enormous appetite for success,” di Resta concluded.
“Mercedes-Benz has given me a car that I can use to fight for wins and the title. However, I realise that it will not be easy. My competitors already have two years of experience with the new generation of vehicles, but, starting with today's first test, I'll be going flat out in order to be capable of winning at the Hockenheim season opener in early May."