October 9th, 2012 (F1plus / Ewan Marshall).- Formula One has undergone plenty of change recently, with next year’s driver market starting to take shape after months of speculation and stalling.
With Lewis Hamilton departing for pastures new and Michael Schumacher heading off into the sunset, a whole batch of new possibilities immediately arose; with the major moves acting as the perfect lubricant to get the cogs moving and to shake up the order. Not for a long time had there been such upheaval at the top at the order; a chance for fresh blood to finally cut their teeth at the top and emerge as a brand new title challenger.
But though Sergio Perez more than fits the bill one man must be feeling hard done by, having been overlooked.  Whilst nobody is denying the fortunate position he currently finds himself in, relative to other seats on the grid, the prospect of remaining at Force India for another year may not be what Paul di Resta had in mind.
Of course this is nothing new in a career which has lacked the linear path of others around him. After winning the McLaren Autosport BRDC award and convincingly beating many of his current rivals to become the 2006 F3 Euroseries Champion, the future looked bright for the Scot, with many tipping him to be fast tracked to future success. But this simply did not materialise and although he received backing for Mercedes, this was a step up to the DTM rather than a crack at the likes of GP2 and in direct contrast to the likes of F3 team-mate Sebastian Vettel.
However, instead of blending in with the likes of fellow Merc-runners Gary Paffett or Jamie Green (both extremely talented, but never having been able to break the glass ceiling attributed with racing in tin tops) di Resta continued to plough away and remain in the minds of team bosses in Formula One. It is unsurprising that when he eventually did find his way into the sport through Force India few questions were asked about neither his ability nor how easily he made the transition.
On placing and points alone, many fans may be far from convinced. Nevertheless pouring over statistics speaks little of what the 26-year-old has achieved so far in two years. Granted they may not have bared the giant killings of Perez or the flamboyancy of Kobayashi, but they have been every bit professional, competitive and consistent. Reflecting back it is hard to pick out a moment where Di Resta has been at fault so far – barring his tangle with Romain Grosjean at Silverstone and his unexpected error in practice at Suzuka.
Therefore, armed with the attributes aforementioned, it is baffling to think that he would be overlooked for the seat at Woking. Certainly his demeanour and his work ethic would appear to fit the bill; moreover he would another British name to continue the team’s recent trend.
However McLaren has gone the other way with its selection, relinquishing its ‘Team-GB’ mantle and committing to Perez as its next big star. For what it’s worth it could prove to be a master stroke, after all the 22-year-old is on everyone’s lips and definitely has potential – not to mention arming his new squad with the potential to attract a raft of fresh backing from his native homeland.
So where does this leave di Resta now?
Certainly Force India has given him a good car to plough his trade and during this time the Silverstone-based outfit has made some substantial advances; however these has been overshadowed by the great strides by its rivals and Pirelli playing devil’s advocate with its tyres. Recently, the team has really come into its stride and may yet steal that sixth place away from Sauber by the end of the year.
Yet whilst it is hoped that the team will continue to grow, realistically it is unlikely that the team will be able to provide di Resta with the tools to fight for consecutive wins or podiums – unless Pirelli opt to once again shake up the order or the team produce a car similar to Sauber’s C31.
What’s more the Scot could once again be bridesmaid to team-mate Nico Hulkenberg – another who has been overlooked at times in his careers but who does carry some significant baggage and whose recent surge of form has seen many place him ahead of his stable-mate in the queue.
Though options do remain for the pair, it now seems incredibly likely that both will remain where they are for another season at least – not a bad thing of course, as previously mentioned.
Instead the road to a top team will likely be long and full of ruts along the way; another struggle to get noticed amongst a surge of upstarts and headline makers.
Thus di Resta will have to do what he has done: continue to plug away and await eventual reward.