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No shortcuts for Di Resta on the path back to F1

Paul Di Resta could be forgiven for lamenting What a Shame About Me as he returns to the Nuerburgring in Germany this weekend.

Paul Di Resta has endured a miserable season with Mercedes after dropping into the DTM. Picture: AP
Paul Di Resta has endured a miserable season with Mercedes after dropping into the DTM. Picture: AP

A year ago, the Scottish driver was proving his mettle in Formula One and accumulating a steady haul of 48 points for Force India, which was 19 more than his team-mate Adrian Sutil mustered.

With F1 being as much preoccupied with commercial and sponsorship considerations as skill and technical expertise, though, Di Resta found himself unceremoniously ejected from the ranks during the winter, while Sergio Perez - he has a billionaire's backing, but no other signs of being anything special in the fast lane - joined Force India, prompting another game of musical chairs in Bernie Ecclestone's empire.

Sutil clung on to a race seat, but has thus far scored no points for Sauber in 2014. Di Resta, meanwhile has returned to the DTM ranks and has endured a miserable season with Mercedes. It has been so inauspicious that it seemed unlikely he would want to talk about his problems. To his credit, and oblivious to those who say his perceived lack of media savvy was an Achiles heel, the 28-year-old was happy to spell out his feelings on the past, present and future.

"I loved F1; I enjoyed every single thing about it," he said. "It's the best racing there is and you are up there with la creme de la creme, so obviously it was disappointing not to get the chance to be involved this season. But you have to put up with setbacks and it's how you react to these things which matter.

"I am confident people have seen that I have the qualities to succeed in F1 but, of course, things keep changing in the sport, whether it's the rules or the driver line-ups and, unfortunately, the situation arose where there wasn't a place for me.

"I am still young enough to believe I can gain another opportunity and I am pushing as hard as I can to make it happen. It obviously helps if you can bring a lot of money to the table, but I worked hard to earn my chance in the first place and I'm not going anywhere. I want to be back in F1 and I will do whatever I can to fulfil that ambition."

Di Resta won the DTM championship in 2010 but his experiences in recent months have been at odds with the scintillating manner of his title success. In many respects, his travails have evoked memories of the response the great Lester Piggott once offered to an angry trainer: "I can't go anywhere without the horse."

Despite Di Resta's results and regular finishes towards the back of the grid, though, he understands there is no value in bemoaning his lot. He and his Mercedes colleagues simply have to improve.

"When I came back, I thought I might be able to get to the front straight away, but that clearly hasn't happened and we are not where we want to be just now," said Di Resta. "But that's no reflection on the work ethic of the people working with me; we are doing everything possible to achieve better results and I just have to concentrate on that.

"I already know the Nuerburgring from many races in the past in DTM and I was here in F1 last year. But I've never been too bothered about the past. There's nothing I can do to change that.

"Our focus has to be on continuing our positive development and learning more about the car and  the set-up. You don't find many shortcuts in this business."

The words demonstrate that Di Resta is older and wiser than when he gradu­ated to the F1 ranks. Ever since he and his father, Louis, drove thousands of miles across Europe a decade ago in search of precious backing and various championship forays, his commitment has never been in question, yet he has found himself under attack for launching public criticisms of his employers in the past. One suspects he won't be repeating that mistake.

"It's too early to say what my plans are for 2015 and my thoughts are completely devoted to chasing better results in DTM and helping Mercedes in any way I can," insisted Di Resta. "But I am positive I can gain another drive in F1 and, if anything, I am even more determined than I was. The decision isn't up to me, but I delivered good, steady performances and I have no doubt I can build on that."

He sounded as if he meant it. We haven't seen the last of this fellow in Formula One.

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