Birthday Boy in Chinaposted in F116 | 04 | 2010

    Shanghai, China: Friday, April 16, 2010

    Formula One new boy Paul will spend his 24th birthday today hurtling round the stunning Shanghai circuit in his Force India Formula One car. And the Bathgate racer is determined the next 12 months will be the biggest year of his life.

    “I’m reserve and test driver for the team now, but this time next year I want to be racing for real,” Paul, who has already impressed his team bosses with mature and productive test sessions at Australia and Malaysia, stated.

    Having sat in for team-mate Adrian Sutil in Melbourne, Paul will again use Italian Tonio Liuzzi’s Force India car for today’s 90-minute practice session in Shanghai.

    “Last year I spent my birthday testing with my DTM team in Dijon. That was good enough, but I never thought that 12 months later I’d actually spend my birthday driving an F1 car in a race weekend situation.

    “This past year has been mega, but I know the next year will be the biggest year of my life. I’m working very, very hard with the team and they know I want a race seat for 2011. That’s my aim, and I intend to achieve it.”

    Paul received an early birthday present of a bespoke hand-made pair of Alpinestars race boots from his team. Cut from white and blue leather, the top of the boots have ‘Happy Birthday’ in Chinese characters.

    To give the boots an extra special twist, a large tiger was appliqued on to the side, denoting he was born in the year of the tiger under the Chinese calendar. As it happens, 2010 is also a tiger year, meaning Paul will have a unique memento of this birthday.

    The Scot will also have his birthday marked by an in-depth BBC feature to be recorded today and televised over the weekend.

    The extensive piece will form part of BBC’s Chinese Grand Prix coverage which includes F1 pundit and fellow Scot David Coulthard.

    “Yeh, that’s going to be fun,” Paul, who will also partner Coulthard with Mercedes-Benz in this year’s DTM championship, admitted. “I think DC’s doing most of the feature with me, so it’ll be great because he was always someone I looked up to when I was a kid. My birthday, DC, China and F1; what a great mixture.”

    And Paul’s prominence in F1, where he is seen as the best young racing driver in the world not to be racing in the sport, is acknowledged by Force India chief race engineer, Dominic Harlow.

    “We certainly think he’s the best young racing driver around,” the Englishman, who has overseen Di Resta’s drives in Australia and Malaysia, as well as the three-day test in Jerez last December, said.

    “That’s why we chose him. We went through a number of top-level of tests before deciding on Paul. He’s raced with, and beaten, a number of international and ex-F1 drivers in the DTM series, so he’s certainly as good as anyone out there

    Having Paul onboard has certainly helped our team environment. Give any drivers, Adrian and Tonio included, someone else to beat and they’ll want to beat them. It’s a natural result of their competitive nature and the sporting environment.

    “All three work together and spend a lot of time together. Paul’s certainly helped spread the load. For the two drivers, it certainly hasn’t been a negative; it’s been a significant positive having his input. Paul definitely has a longterm future with Force India.”

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