McLaren-Mercedes have admitted that they may help DTM championship challenger Paul di Resta to get his break in Formula 1 one day – but that that day will not
come in 2009.
The young Scot has been rewarded for a superb 2008 campaign in the leading pan-European touring car series with four days' testing for the Woking-based outfit – two at Silverstone earlier this month and two more at an unspecified later date – and speculation has since emerged that he could be set to make his bow in the top flight with Force India next year, in a deal that would also see the former Midland F1 concern receive Mercedes engines, McLaren KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System) technology and other technical support [see separate story – click here
However, whilst acknowledging that the 22-year-old possesses all the necessary talent to follow in fellow former F3 Euroseries Champion Lewis Hamilton's wheeltracks and graduate to F1, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport Vice-President Norbert Haug insists next season will be too soon.
“The options for Paul next year are either to stay in the DTM or go into GP2,” the German told The Press Association
, “but nothing is decided. We need to look and see what the next steps are.
“I think he is an exceptional guy and he has the ingredients, but you never know. You need to find out and then go from there.”
Those thoughts were echoed by McLaren team principal Ron Dennis, who admitted that the squad is currently monitoring di Resta's potential to move onto the grand prix grid in the not-too distant future.
“We have a policy of trying to promote young drivers into Formula 1,” the 61-year-old explained. “He did a great job when he was evaluated in our simulator a few months ago, and it was agreed that as and when he gets over the DTM season, we would evaluate the possibility of integrating him into Formula 1.
“That may not necessarily be with McLaren or any specific team, but obviously to put your weight behind someone you have to have a clear perspective of what they can do, so that is why we are going through this process.”
Di Resta – who it has been revealed is receiving management help from Anthony Hamilton, Lewis' father – lies just two points adrift of Audi title rival Timo Scheider ahead of the DTM season finale at Hockenheim in a week-and-a-half's time.