Paul di Resta may have settled into life as a DTM title contender in recent years, but he has never given up on getting into Formula 1. At the AUTOSPORT International show today, the Scot revealed that he was on the brink of a Force India role following his impressive test for the team last winter.
Q. You tested for Force India at Jerez in December during the young driver days. It went very well, didn't it?
Paul di Resta: Yeah. We had a very difficult year in the DTM last year. It did not get off to the best start but then, during the year, we started talking to Force India. And thankfully they gave me an opportunity to go down to Jerez and do three half days in the car.
It was a big opportunity and something I have waited a long time to do, to get a serious chance to drive the car, and it was very productive. We came out very strong and also moved forward and built a relationship with Force India.
Q. It took you a while to readjust from what is relatively-speaking a very heavy, not very powerful touring car, were you able to make the transition quickly?
PdR: Yeah. I even surprised myself in some ways. I had not driven a single-seater in a year, since a GP2 test I did at the end of 2008. But it came to me pretty quickly. I had a short time in the simulator before, which for sure bought me up to speed a bit more, but an F1 car is about getting over the comfort zone and when you go over this you start to see the results and really get the feeling for what it is about.
Q. It is very difficult these days for young guys to get an opportunity and get mileage in a GP car because the restrictions are so tight...
PdR: It is a bit of a difficult one just now. The more and more series that keep bringing in testing bans, from DTM to F1, it is getting harder for newcomers. These three days in Jerez were very well done, very well managed and there were no big serious dramas during test, no red flags. It worked very well and I think the teams really saw a benefit from it. They were able to run their programmes and let the young guys who are up and coming get a chance to show them what they can do and also gain the experience.
Q. Where are you at now with the dialogue with Vijay Mallya and Force India regarding a reserve driver role?
PdR: Things are moving along quite strong. Since the test for sure we have been in talks, and I would say we are about 90 percent there. We are in the final stages of finishing off for the program they have set and hopefully we can build a very long and strong relationship for me to try and race with Force India in the future.
Q. It would not offer you much mileage in the car, but what it would do is put you in pole position to step in something happened to either of the team's race drivers?
PdR: The two drivers they have -- Adrian [Sutil] did a very good job last year. And also Tonio [Liuzzi]. It is a fight to get a seat, and I am going to try and fight for that - and try to prove to Force India that I am capable of getting in that car and doing the same job they can if not better.
Q. What about DTM? If the F1 thing doesn't happen this time, will you be back in touring cars?
PdR: I am not really sure what the future is going to hold. But I have a very good relationship with Mercedes. I did five years with then - two years in Euro F3 and three in the DTM. They have all been very successful and we've moved forward.
I have a relationship with some people in the team that is very close. I can always say that I'm sure, going back there, we could equally do the same job again. But things move on and we just have to see where we can be in the next few years.
Q. Does your relationship with McLaren bring you closer to McLaren and Mercedes GP?
PdR: Yes, I suppose it has. I have had a very good relationship with McLaren over the last three years, since I have been in DTM. I did some running with McLaren, some aero testing and some small system checks and stuff. So I have a good relationship with McLaren. They have been very good to me and equally I would love to drive for them one day.
And with Mercedes, with Norbert [Haug] taking over, I am sure Norbert knows what I am capable of and we for sure want to build a relationship with Mercedes wherever that is going to be.
Q. As someone on the fringes of F1, and looking to get involved, what do you see?
PdR: I am speaking to a lot of people on this, and I think this is going to be the best year in F1. You only have to see the names of some of the guys in the top teams, and I don't have to mention them.
But also the new teams coming in -- who is going to be the best of the new teams? Also it gives the teams who have not got the budget to be at the front, it gives them something more to race for, and something more or less to achieve. I think it is going to be exciting. It is difficult to judge going into it, but it is going to start very soon and it is going to be a waiting game.