What with tonight being Burns Night- Scotland’s celebration of their great poet Robert Burns- we thought it a perfect time to focus on the Scottish drivers on the F1 grid. Only there aren’t any. Not right now, anyway.
So we could talk about about the great Scottish racers of times past. Plenty to choose from: three times champion Jackie Stewart; the late, great Jim Clark; or F1’s most recent Flying Scotsman David Coulthard. But why not look to the future, and focus on the next Scot likely to make the jump to F1? Step forward twenty-three year-old Paul di Resta from West Lothian.
Okay, so he doesn’t have the most Scottish name, but di Resta is a genuine Scot, just like cousin and two-time Indycar champion Dario Franchitti. He also shares Franchitti’s talents behind the wheel of a racing car but, unlike Dario, di Resta looks set to find his way in to F1 in the not too distant future.
On merit too: he succeeded Lewis Hamilton as F3 Euroseries champion in 2006 before switching to DTM, Germany’s premier touring car series. Showing he’s just as good with a roof over him as without he finished second in the championship in 2008 and third in 2009. Considering he was racing guys with vast touring car experience (and Ralf Schumacher) that’s pretty good stuff.
He’s kept his hat in the F1 ring too. He’s got test experience with McLaren, and kept the link going by driving for the team’s engine supplier Mercedes in DTM. And it’s that link that looks set to push his F1 career forwards.
In December he tested for Force India, fellow Mercedes runners, and now he says he’s ’90 percent certain’ of becoming the team’s third driver for 2010. And from there, he reckons, a full-time F1 driver in 2011.
Not an unreasonable notion. Both McLaren and Mercedes- now separate entities- rate di Resta, and want to see him in an F1 car so as to make a judgment on his capability to race in motorsport’s top flight. A seat with Force India would be perfect.
And lets be honest, neither of the team’s current drivers are 100% secure in their jobs. Adrian Sutil’s shown flashes of speed but suffered too many accidents, whilst Tonio Liuzzi still needs to prove he’s a better driver than he showed us at Toro Rosso. If the team decides to dispense of one of these guys at the end of 2010- or even before- di Resta will be right there waiting to take his chance.
So, Scottish F1 fans, whilst you enjoy Burns suppers tonight, raise a glass to young Paul di Resta. We reckon he’s going to be the next man to take the Saltire in to F1 battle.