Di Resta races into unknownposted in F123 | 11 | 2013

    BATHGATE'S PAUL DI RESTA is in Brazil this weekend for the traditional end-of-season race, the last grand prix of the season. But for the 27-year-old Scot there are concerns it could be his last race in Formula One, at least in terms of sitting out the 2014 season.

    Politics and money — especially money — speak louder than talent in F1, and Di Resta now appears at serious risk of being unjustly ousted from his Sahara Force India seat by drivers bringing shed loads of cash to the team.

    Is it right? Of course not.

    F1 has always — well, up until about 10 years ago — prided itself on being the pinnacle of global motorsport: the world's most technologically advanced cars driven by the world's best drivers.

    Nowadays, with spiralling cost going hand-in-hand with the continued fallout from the global financial downturn, cash is king. Talent? Well that's of secondary importance.

    This year has been Di Resta's best-ever season in F1: he starts tomorrow's Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos, on the outskirts of Sao Paulo, 10th in the drivers' world championship. The Scot has also outscored his Sahara Force India team-mate, Adrian Sutil 48-29, and collected the team’s best result, fourth in Bahrain.

    Yet it would appear his performance has not been enough: well, certainly according to all the pitlane gossip and rumours.

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    At the core of the uncertainty surrounding Di Resta's future is the fact Sahara Force India team boss Vijay Mallya traditionally doesn't announce his driver line-up for the following season until after the team's Christmas party.

    That said, cast your mind back to the unveiling of the 2013 Force India car at Silverstone at the beginning of February. As Di Resta, backed by Whyte & Mackay Whisky, lifted the cover from the '13 car, the team had yet to announce who his team-mate was for the year. Strange.

    Today the situation is even more convoluted. Sutil has already come out and hinted he's staying with the team for next season.

    "Yes, I know where I will be," he said. "There is a signature somewhere, but it is a team policy that I don't talk about it. But I'm quite happy."

    Significantly, his statement made no reference to Sahara Force India.

    The picture at the team is further muddied by the availability of three other drivers, two of whom bring millions of pounds in sponsorship with them.

    And here we do slip into the tawdry world of whispers, unsubstantiated reports and smoking mirrors.

    After walking away from the team last year to join Sauber, Nico Hulkenberg is believed to have already signed a contract with Sahara Force India.

    Related: Tyres deflate Di Resta points run

    Also knocking at the team's door is Pastor Maldonado. The Venezuelan has left Williams and has £30m worth of sponsorship in his pocket. Though likely to go to Lotus, he is in the running for a Force India seat.

    The third driver keen to replace Di Resta is, ironically, the man McLaren controversially ditched the Scot for when it came to the vacancy created when Lewis Hamilton left at the end of 2012: Sergio Perez.

    The 23-year-old Mexican again brings megabucks with him, being bankrolled by the world's richest man, Carlos Slim.

    So, where does all this leave Di Resta and his management team? Confused and frustrated, I would imagine.

    There is no questioning the fact the Scot is one of the most accomplished drivers on the F1 grid.

    And Di Resta he stressed he is concentrating on retaining his seat at Force India, even though he has once again admitted a move to IndyCar racing — following in the footsteps of his cousin, Dario Franchitti — is an option.

    "I'm still in the running for the seat here at Sahara Force India," he stated, "and I would certainly like to think I am.

    "There's a few other options with interest but the primary objective for me is to stay in F1: more importantly to stay driving because I've got a lot to offer.

    "At this point in the year it's my best year, and yet I still find myself in difficulties. It's hard to accept, but I've got to understand where F1 is at the moment in the midfield.

    "It's hard to work out who's going where and what's happening. I don't think anyone's making decisions. I'd say I'm more in the dark at this point than I ever have been, just because they haven't given too much away.

    "I strongly believe I've done enough to deserve a race seat: I hope everybody will agree with me on that."

    Related: Di Resta pays tribute to Franchitti

    As for a switch to IndyCar in 2014, and taking the Ganassi seat Franchitti was forced to vacate when he had to retire following his recent injuries, Di Resta admitted interest.

    "I wouldn't rule out anything," he said. "I've openly said I would discuss it with Dario." But a switch to the US carries one caveat.

    "I've always been slightly concerned about the safety of IndyCars," he admitted, "but sitting down and looking at it logically, it's a serious option to look elsewhere because of the success he has had.

    "I'm not at that point yet, I've still a race to go and I'm doing as much as I can in this paddock to make sure I remain here."

    Personally, I believe the management at Sahara Force India will stick by Di Resta: and don't be surprised to see him paired up again with last year's team-mate Nico Hulkenberg.

    The team is fully aware of the results Di Resta has delivered for the team, especially this year, and he is very highly-rated by the engineers and management.

    While other drivers may bring pots of money, it's raw talent that Di Resta has bucket loads of. Let's hope that's enough to keep him in F1 next season.

    Related: Webber out to spoil Vettel's end-of-season party

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    Jim McGill


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