Paul di Resta has admitted that he is so keen to make his Formula 1 debut next year that he would be willing to do so with a back-of-the-grid team - something many in the paddock believe is a distinct possibility.

The Scot's name has been increasingly linked in recent weeks to a berth at Force India - likely in place of Adrian Sutil - in a deal that would also see the Silverstone-based minnows supplied with Mercedes-Benz engines and McLaren KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems) technology.

The rumours then dictate that after a year spent learning both the ropes and new circuits out of the spotlight, di Resta could graduate to McLaren-Mercedes in 2010 alongside fellow former F3 Euroseries champion Lewis Hamilton.

It has already been hinted that the world champion-elect's current team-mate Heikki Kovalainen is not altogether happy with his 'support role' at Woking [see separate story - click here], and Mercedes Young Driver Development Programme member di Resta has spent four days this month testing for the Silver Arrows.

"I certainly feel privileged and fortunate to be involved with two of the most respected names in world motorsport - Mercedes and McLaren," the 22-year-old told the Edinburgh Evening News. "My development with them has been excellent, but will I go to Formula 1? Well, that's certainly where I want to see myself eventually.

"As a young racing driver back in the days of my karting, that's always been my ultimate goal. You always want to reach the highest level in any profession, and in motorsport it's Formula 1. That's where I want to be."

Moreover, when pressed about whether he would be willing to accept making his bow in a less competitive team, the 2005 McLaren/Autosport BRDC Young Driver of the Year was unequivocal.

"Yes," he replied. "I don't see why not. I spent my first year in the DTM last season driving a two-year-old car, but not only did I learn the circuits and how everything behind-the-scenes worked, I finished on the podium and led the championship at one stage.

"Now I'm on the brink of winning the title. I don't see why I shouldn't follow the same route into Formula 1."

Should the West Lothian ace indeed graduate to the top flight, he would do so just as fellow Scot David Coulthard is walking away, and not only that but he would be fulfilling a goal that cousin Dario Franchitti never managed to achieve.

Though the 2007 Indianapolis 500 winner and IndyCar Series champion tested briefly with Jaguar Racing at Silverstone eight years ago, he was always clear that he was only interested in making the leap across the Pond with a 'competitive' team - and no offers were ever forthcoming.

In the meantime, though, di Resta has a rather more pressing concern on his mind - that of clinching the DTM laurels in only his second season in the premier pan-European tin-top series. He may begin the final race of the campaign at Hockenheim this weekend two points adrift of Audi's long-time championship leader Timo Scheider, but with three runner-up positions and victory in Barcelona from his last four starts, it is the man from Bathgate rather than the one from Lahnstein in Germany who is incontrovertibly the driver in-form.

"I know there are lots and lots of people beginning to get a bit carried away with rumours, hints, guesses and pure speculation surrounding what I'm going to be doing next season," he mused, "but the only thing I'm thinking about is the final race in the DTM.

"I know what I have to do this weekend, and that's simply to win the race. I win the race, I win the championship, even if Timo finishes second and we finish on the same points. Then I win it on most races won.

"I know it's not going to be easy. There are many pitfalls just waiting to appear, but we'll prepare for the race the same way we've prepared for every other race recently.

"Next season is next season. I'll deal with that soon enough, but certainly not before the weekend. My sole priority at the moment is winning the DTM championship for Mercedes.

"I have to put the Formula 1 talk to one side because I want that DTM title. It is terribly important to me to win the championship. I want to win at every level I compete at."

In his efforts to advance his burgeoning career, di Resta is also receiving management advice from Hamilton's father Anthony, and his own father Louis argues the praise and recognition that is finally beginning to come his way is no more than he is due.

"People are realising how good he is now," di Resta Snr is quoted as having said by British newspaper The Sun. "He is getting good press.

"He was even mentioned on TV during qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix last weekend. Obviously he is being talked about because of his abilities.

"We didn't know about Force India until it was mentioned in the press, but they have said they are keeping their drivers for next year so we have to presume that's right."

Should that indeed be the case, other possible avenues for di Resta in 2009 are believed to be a testing role at McLaren-Mercedes and/or a GP2 seat, having tried out successfully for former championship-winning squad ART Grand Prix at Paul Ricard in southern France recently.

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