Paul di Resta is set to get some running in Friday practice for Force India this season as part of his imminent deal as a reserve driver, McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh has revealed.
Di Resta is close to finalizing a contract that will see him become Force India's third driver alongside Adrian Sutil and Vitantonio Liuzzi – with an announcement expected soon. But rather than stay on the sidelines, Whitmarsh – whose team is a technical partner of Force India – has revealed that the youngster will get the chance to show what he can do in Friday practice.
"Paul will be running, I believe, in the majority of the Friday sessions (at grand prix weekends) for Force India, so it's a great opportunity for him," Whitmarsh told the Reuters news agency. "I'm happy for him. He's going to push like hell to make his case to have a race drive at Force India during the course of this year."
Whitmarsh said that several midfield teams were evaluating the possibility of sharing driving duties on Fridays – as was common practice several years ago.
"If you are trying to win a championship, to not allow your principal drivers the Friday session is not something we would contemplate," he explained. "But it's something that some other teams are looking at and it's a great opportunity for Paul."
Whitmarsh also explained that his outfit was on the look out for another test driver to replace Pedro de la Rosa, who has switched to the BMW Sauber team. Although Gary Paffett will be retained, McLaren thinks he already has too big a program to do all the testing duties alone.
"Gary probably did 60 days in the simulator last year for us and he'll do the same sort of number and maybe a bit more this year. But he's got other commitments so we need another driver," he added. "We are seeing what's happening at the moment. There's no great panic. We are very confident in Gary; we've worked and supported Gary for a number of years.
"At the moment, we've got two race drivers who are pretty keen and eager and are working hard, but during the course of the year we will see what happens. I might be wrong, but one can imagine that the driver market, and maybe the entrants, will be slightly more volatile than they have been in recent years. I sense that there will be some drivers who think they are gainfully employed at the moment who may be available in the future."