As Williams look to choose a teammate for Lance Stroll next year, it is looking increasingly likely that the two leading candidates are Paul Di Resta and Robert Kubica.
F1 fans throughout the world would love a Kubica comeback, but there is an argument that Di Resta is just as worthy of an F1 comeback as the speedy Pole. Especially since the Scot’s brilliant stand-in performance at this years Hungarian Grand Prix.
“I think he’s done his reputation no end of good this weekend. Paul did an absolutely terrific job, as I think everyone recognised.” – Paddy Lowe – Hungary 2017
Di Resta raced with Force India from 2011 up until the end of 2013, and took a best result of fourth place in the 2012 Singapore Grand Prix and 2013 Bahrain Grand Prix, the latter seeing him unlucky not to take a podium finish. He was unceremoniously dropped at the end of 2013 and went back to the DTM series where he won the title in 2010 and has had success in that series since rejoining it.
He has actively been working towards on F1 return since then and was signed up as the Williams reserve driver in 2016 and retained the role for this year. He finally got a chance to prove himself again after Felipe Massa sat out this year’s Hungarian Grand Prix due to illness and with no running at all, qualified P19 and less than a second away from Stroll’s time.
It was an unbelievable effort from a man who had no practice running and had not even driven this year’s car. He sadly retired from the race but no matter – he had already proven what he set out to. Inevitably, his performance ignited the discussion he wanted all to have: Could the Scot come back in 2018?
His performance certainly piqued the interest of Toto Wolff, who suggested if Mercedes ever needed a reserve driver to replace Lewis Hamilton or Valtteri Bottas for whatever reason, it would probably be Di Resta. The Scot always seems to have been underrated and people quickly forget the fact he so nearly got the McLaren drive that was eventually taken by Sergio Perez after Hamilton left the team.
He gave Nico Hulkenburg a very good run for his money in 2012, a man who came very close to winning the last race of that year in Brazil and was seen as a long term investment by Renault as well. Hulkenburg took 63 points that year as Di Resta took 46 and the pair broke even when it came to the qualifying head to head. Despite being dropped after 2013, Di Resta took 48 points to teammate Adrian Sutil’s 29 – it makes one wonder why Force India dropped him at all.
A Kubica comeback would be a lovely story but Di Resta is more than worthy of one himself. Several opportunities for big results passed him by and it is fantastic that Williams are at least considering him for next year. The man has put in incredible drives over the past, and his most recent stint is reason enough to let the hype sink in. Perhaps next year, he’ll get a chance to remind everyone just how good he really is.