Whitmarsh: di Resta will get Force India reserve role

Highly-rated Scot Paul di Resta is closing on the reserve driver position at Force India, Martin Whitmarsh was quoted as saying today. The ex-McLaren Young Driver of the Year has recently plied his trade in the DTM German Touring Car series but has long maintained his ambition to make it in F1.

In a demonstration of McLaren’s continued co-operation with the Force India team, McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh broke the news.

“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.”

Di Resta is the cousin of IndyCar legend Dario Franchitti, and tested for Force India last year. He has stated his desire to work hard this year, in order to be in the frame for a race drive in 2011.

Whitmarsh added details of McLaren’s line-up, stating that they would be retaining di Resta’s erstwhile DTM colleague Gary Paffett in the wake of losing Pedro de la Rosa, although Paffett’s role would be reduced.

“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 at Woking 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.”