Paul di Resta has revealed that he is firmly intent on lining up on the Formula 1 grid in 2009 and competing against old friend and sparring partner Lewis Hamilton – after 'showing everyone what [he is] capable of' during a brace of tests for McLaren-Mercedes last month.
The Scot was awarded the chance to get behind the wheel of the Woking-based outfit's challenger off the back of a stellar 2008 campaign in the DTM, in which he emerged as Mercedes-Benz's leading contender and took the fight to Audi rival Timo Scheider right down to the wire in the final race of the season at Hockenheim, ultimately missing out on the crown by less than a handful of points.
Though there is no room at the McLaren inn for the 22-year old in 2009, team principal Ron Dennis has revealed that he will do all he can to support di Resta's graduation to the top flight – and with the Silver Arrows' link-up with Force India next year now official [see separate story – click here
], the rumours that the West Lothian-born ace could bet set to replace Adrian Sutil at the Silverstone-based squad refuse to go away.
“What I want to do now is be on the Formula 1 grid in 2009 to race head-to-head against Lewis,” he wrote on his personal website. “I know we're mates, and we've raced against each other in numerous formulae in the past, but this would be the big one – racing against each other in Formula 1.”
Indeed, di Resta followed in Hamilton's wheeltracks in lifting the F3 Euroseries laurels with ASM in 2006 – consummately defeating Scuderia Toro Rosso Italian Grand Prix winner Sebastian Vettel along the way – but as the funds dried up he was forced to turn to tin-tops to keep his racing career afloat.
With Hamilton and Vettel both now making considerable waves in F1, however, the Bathgate star says he is ready to make the leap – and join them at the pinnacle of international motorsport.
“Lewis has made it, and so too has Vettel, who I beat comfortably to the F3 Euroseries championship in 2006,” he underlined. “If they can do it, I know I can too.
“The recent tests I've had in the McLaren-Mercedes have certainly shown everyone what I'm capable of in an F1 car. Now we just have to see what happens for next season.”