The decision by Force India to partner Paul di Resta with Adrian Sutil once again came as a surprise following the latter’s fall from grace at the end of 2011. A great deal has changed since Sutil first left, with di Resta heading into the new season as the ‘number one’ driver, but if he is outpaced by his teammate this year, the Scot could find his Formula One career under scrutiny.
di Resta’s time in F1 has been described as “solid” or “decent”, but these words lack the same panache that the likes of Vettel, Hamilton and Alonso were called when they entered the sport. Two seasons have yielded 73 points and a best finish of fourth in the 2012 Singapore Grand Prix. Occasionally, he has managed to force his way into the top ten shootout, but there has rarely been a spectacular showing from the Scot. In Belgium last year, he was as high as third before dropping back through the field to finish tenth. Considering his teammate had been out of F1 for a whole season, di Resta struggled to match Nico Hulkenberg, with their performances in the Brazilian GP summing up their seasons: Hulkenberg led for most of the race; di Resta struggled before crashing out with a few laps to go.
Enter Adrian Sutil. The German driver has reminded journalists how he scored more points than di Resta when they were last together, and if he could repeat this performance in 2013, it could spell trouble for the former DTM champion. To have spent three seasons in the sport without beating your teammate is not “future champion” material. When Lewis Hamilton vacated his McLaren seat, many saw di Resta as the ideal replacement. The factor that swung in Perez’s favor was his record for stand-out results (three podiums last season, including the nearly win in Malaysia).
Although this hypothesis may be a rather negative one for di Resta to contemplate, it will hopefully be the incentive that will lead him to some strong results in 2013. One must also remember how Jenson Button became a leading driver: eight years of midfield mediocrity before that championship win. As F1 becomes increasingly cut-throat though, di Resta may not have time to wait around, and will instead have to prove his worth in 2013.