Down a shot of Scotch whiskey in Paul di Resta’s honour – the young Scot is turning 26 years old today!
Hugely regarded by those in the know, di Resta is one of the few drivers to have beaten two-time Formula 1 World Champion Sebastian Vettel in a same-make championship after he took the 2006 Formula 3 Euroseries title as the German’s team-mate.
In his formative years, di Resta – cousin to IndyCar champion Dario Franchitti – was a sensation in karting and won the 2004 McLaren/Autosport BRDC Award, and took the unusual step of moving into touring cars (with support from Mercedes-Benz) after his F3 title win.
DTM was the logical choice, and Di Resta sensationally led the championship during his maiden season in older-spec equipment, and he was quickly promoted to the frontline HWA team for the 2008 season.
He narrowly missed out on the title that year, and lost out again the following year when he started the championship race a little too slowly.
But he was sublime in 2010 – the same year that he started dovetailing his tin-top duties with being Force India’s test and reserve driver – claiming a succession of wins and the title.
His reward was a full-time berth in Force India for the 2011 season. He began impressively, out-qualifying team-mate Adrian Sutil and finishing in the points in the opening two races. He suffered a few mid-season wobbles – mostly not of his own making – but was a points’ regular in the latter half of the season, with six top-ten finishes in the final nine races.
Re-signed for the 2012 season, he’s again started strongly with more points’ finishes and he looks a strong contender to graduate into Mercedes’ works F1 team in the future.