x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Di Resta risks being odd driver out in scramble for Formula One seats

Maldonado's decision could signal sudden end to musical chairs

Paul Di Resta could soon find himself without a ride as the scramble to secure Formula One seats for next year features more drivers than vacancies. Mark Thompson / Getty Images
Paul Di Resta could soon find himself without a ride as the scramble to secure Formula One seats for next year features more drivers than vacancies. Mark Thompson / Getty Images

Force India’s Paul Di Resta is in danger of being the man who misses out on a 2014 race seat as the tempo quickens in Formula One’s game of musical chairs.

The Scot wants to stay for a fourth season, but with more drivers than places available and talk of others already being lined up for his job, he does not sound overly confident about his prospects.

“I have no idea. I need everybody’s help if I can get it,” Di Resta said after finishing 11th in Sunday’s Brazilian Grand Prix. “I’ve done what’s asked of me when the car is under me and who knows? I’ll be in competitive racing ... but remaining part of Formula One has to be my ultimate goal.”

Di Resta, a cousin of three-time Indy 500 winner Dario Franchitti, said he would be open to a switch to Indy Cars and the Ganassi seat vacated on medical grounds by Franchitti, a fellow Scot.

Germany’s Nico Hulkenberg, Di Resta’s teammate at Force India last year before moving to Sauber, has been tipped for a return to the Silverstone-based outfit, reportedly with an agreement already in place.

The indications are Mexican Sergio Perez will be joining him there.

Perez, whose place at McLaren is being handed to Danish rookie Kevin Magnussen, 21, signed off on Sunday with a sixth-place finish among the 19 cars on the starting grid and warm words from principal Martin Whitmarsh. Asked about the Mexican’s prospects of ending up at Force India, Whitmarsh indicated a deal was close.

“We have done what we can to help out getting him in there and he deserves to be in F1,” he said, expressing sympathy for Di Resta.

“It’s a complicated sport these days and there are drivers with less talent than Paul who will be in the sport, either entering the sport or remaining in the sport. That’s sad.”

“It hasn’t been announced yet, but I think it’s been fairly well speculated that is what is likely to happen,” he said of Di Resta being replaced.

Perez sounded optimistic about finding a job with Force India.

“It’s not confirmed yet,” he said. “Obviously it is one of the options, but there are also other options out there. I hope in the next few days we are going to have some news.”

Well-funded Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado is seen as the man who will stop the music and trigger a dash for seats once he has decided whether to opt for Lotus or Sauber. Until then, everyone else must wait.

Lotus have enjoyed a winning car this season, but with financial difficulties, there are no guarantees of that continuing next season when the regulations undergo dramatic change with a new V6 turbocharged engine being introduced.

Maldonado, whose place at Williams has been taken by Ferrari’s Brazilian Felipe Massa, told autosport.com he was close to a decision.

“We have been working very hard since many months ago and now we are just waiting for confirmation – all the stuff that you need to do with contracts,” he said. “But until you sign, you never know.”

Lotus are sure to retain Frenchman Romain Grosjean, while Force India’s Adrian Sutil has been linked to Sauber if he does not stay at his current team.