WHEN Paul Di Resta left Formula One, Formula One didn’t leave him. The lure of the sport – the speed, the competitiveness, the potential for glory – has always pulled him back in.

Now, he is closer than at any time in the last four years. Di Resta still lives life in the fast lane, but it is the possibility of a return to the starting grid that continues to drive him. Second chances are rare in F1 but that is the opportunity that has presented itself to Di Resta ahead of the 2018 campaign as he and Robert Kubica vie for a seat at Williams alongside Lance Stroll. Di Resta is older and wiser and he must be quicker.

The Scot completed a day of testing in the 2014 car at the Hungaroring last Wednesday as the Oxfordshire-based outfit continue to consider their options for next season.

The return to the grid of Kubica would be a heart-warming tale for many motorsport fans following the Rally accident that almost cost him his career six years ago.

But Di Resta has another chapter of his own to write. If he has his way, his three-year stint with Force India will be looked upon as the beginning rather than the end of his F1 story.

“It is always hard to get into Formula One and I don’t think you can ever think that it is easy,” Di Resta told Herald Sport.

“It was hard to get in the first time, and if I get back in again I would be very lucky. But I think I am at a good point in my life, I have learned from a lot of mistakes in the past and ultimately I want to put that right.

“I have still got more a bit of youth, more than a bit of youth, left in me to undertake the task if it happens.

“And being a bit more mature is something that can be an asset to the team in terms of the development and restructure that Williams is going through at the moment.”

Di Resta has already played his part in that process for Williams after he returned to F1 last year as reserve driver to Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa.

As the seats were reshuffled following Bottas’ move to Mercedes and Massa’s retirement U-turn, the call never came for Di Resta.

But the Bathgate racer’s services were required in Hungary in July after Massa had to withdraw just before qualifying due to illness.

After putting down his Sky microphone and donning his overalls once again, Di Resta took his FW40 machine to 19th on the grid. On the Sunday, he was running 18th when forced to retire with an oil leak on lap 60.

“Ultimately the biggest challenge in Hungary was diving in at the deepest of all deep ends and straight into qualifying,” Di Resta said.

“But I always believed with the ability that I have got and the experiences I have had, that given the opportunity with Williams I would represent them in the best way.

“I feel very much at home in that car and I would love more opportunities to get in a Formula One car, because ultimately they are the best racing cars in the world, and the fastest.

“As a driver, that is what excites me and it has given me the sense of what is still out there and I am focused to try and get back in one.”

Those racing laps around the Hungaroring were the first that Di Resta had completed in F1 since a 12th place finish in Japan in 2013. It was an unexpected opportunity, but it is one that has only served to inspire him.

The 31-year-old returned to the DTM series when he was released by Force India and finished 11th in the championship this term. Di Resta took the title seven in Germany seven years ago, but the pinnacle of motorsport remains the ultimate aim after a taste of the action in Mogyoród.

“Absolutely it made me more determined,” he said. “You can very quickly forget it, but racing is still exciting and Formula One, as a driver, it is the only feeling it can give.

“When you race the fastest cars in the world and do the job you love, it is about doing your best job at that. That is what gives you the biggest impact and all that adrenaline rush you get from driving a car.”

His weekends may no longer involve racing against the clock and going wheel-to-wheel with his F1 counterparts, but Di Resta remains at the heart of the sport.

His insight and analysis on Sky has been a welcome addition to the coverage of Formula One. It has allowed Di Resta to keep his hand in, but he wants to put his foot down.

“I have enjoyed working on TV,” he said. “However, that doesn’t take away that I would give it up in a minute to get back in a racing car.

“Being around the paddock is a great thing, talking about what I love is a great thing.

“But, I have got to say, I am very jealous and envious of the people that get to drive these cars on a week to week basis. That is where I want to be, back in the hot seat and then I can go back to TV.”

Whether he is involved behind the wheel or in front of the camera, the landscape around Di Resta seems certain to change in the coming years following the takeover of Formula One by Liberty Media.

The lines between showbiz and sport could well become more blurred as the Americans look to bring the fans closer to the action. It will always be the cars and the drivers that are the main attraction, though.

“I am excited to see what the future is going to hold for Formula One,” Di Resta said.

“Definitely, there has been a change, there will be more changes. Whether they are good or bad, I think it is in a direction that is making the sport more accessible and being on the other side and working on TV has helped me appreciate how restricted they have been in what they get.

“You need to put that product across to the fans, because ultimately they are the people that keep the interest for the sponsors and all the investors that come in and help us do the jobs we all love doing around the paddock.”

In the coming weeks, Di Resta will discover what his role will be in the pit lane next season and whether he will be in the commentary box or the cockpit when the lights go out.

The Scot already has one seat secured, however, after signing up for the Daytona 24-hour in January and he will partner Will Owen in a United Autosports Ligier as he makes his sportscar debut in Florida.

Having also previously competed in Formula Renault and Formula 3 earlier in his career, it will be another new challenge for Di Resta, but he has no inkling to follow Fernando Alonso into the Indy500.

“I think Le Mans appeals more to me than IndyCar,” he said. “I don’t really fancy driving round ovals, I have got a bit of a trust issue with people driving at 300, 350 km/h two inches apart.

“It did appeal to me one day, but you very quickly… I have lost a lot of good friends through that as well.

“I think Le Mans is a bit closer to home where I am in Europe. You never know, but at the moment I am enjoying racing what I am racing.”