Vettel boost for Di Restaposted in F120 | 12 | 2010
SCOT PAUL DI RESTA'S Formula One hopes have received a significant boost after world champ Sebastian Vettel admitted he hopes to go head-to-head with the Bathgate racer in 2011.
Di Resta (pictured), the newly-crowned DTM champion after dominating the series in his Mercedes, beat his former ASM team-mate to the European Formula 3 Championship in 2006. Vettel though has stated he's keen to restore the rivalry.
"I hope to see you in F1 next year," the German told Di Resta via a satellite link as the Scot attended the Mercedes motorsport celebrations in Stuttgart. "Hopefully though, it will not be as tight as it was in F3!"
Earlier the 23-year-old, the youngest-ever F1 champ, admitted he's been impressed by what Di Resta achieved in DTM and in his role as test driver with Force India.
"Yeh, Paul's done a fantastic job this year," the Red Bull driver explained. "DTM is tough; it's very competitive and technical, and for Paul to win by beating so many established world-class racers is a real credit to him.
"I've also been impressed with his pace in the Friday test sessions he's done at numerous grands prix this year. I know the restrictions he's had to work under driving someone else's car, so to be as fast as he has been is great.
"I've always known how fast Paul is; the natural progression is for us to race against each other in Formula One, and hopefully that will happen next year."
Di Resta, who also attended the Force India end-of-season Christmas get-together at the team's HQ at Silverstone, is one of four drivers competing for a race seat at the team next season.
While the 24-year-old had originally faced a direct battle with the two incumbent drivers at Force India — Adrian Sutil and Tonio Liuzzi — his position has become even more complicated after Williams released Nico Hulkenberg. The German's management is known to have been in discussion with Force India.
While Di Resta — seen by many in F1 as a future world champion — has remained tightlipped on his confidential discussions with Force India, both Sutil and Liuzzi have gone public in an effort to sway opinion.
“We have reached an agreement now,” Sutil said this week. “The signature is a mere formality, which will happen. The drivers who do not have a contract yet want to join the team because it is the best team with an open place.”
Italian Liuzzi meanwhile, the driver believed to be under most pressure after an inconsistent and unproductive season — Sutil outscored him 47-21 — also stated this week he believes his seat is 'safe' for next season.
"I have a contract for next year, and I'm already at work with that in mind," he said. "I feel safe, not just with the contract I have in my hands, but also with the fine relationship I have with the team."
The world of F1, as everyone knows, is dominated by politics and not necessarily on-track speed and performance. But Force India insiders are known to be hugely impressed by Di Resta, both on- and off-track; he's quick, hugely marketable and PR-friendly.
And while Force India has still to confirm both its drivers on the official FIA entry list for 2011, the Scot remains in serious contention for a race seat according to his manager Anthony Hamilton.
"There hasn't been one bit of negative information from the team about Paul,” Hamilton, world champ Lewis's father, said. "He has done a great job, the team love him. He's a champion and a leader. Nothing has changed; he is still a contender for a race seat. We are very positive."
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