Force India have today confirmed that Paul di Resta will partner Adrian Sutil in the team next season, whilst ex-Williams driver Nico Hulkenberg will take on the role of test and reserve driver.
Di Resta’s promotion for to a race driver means that, along with Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button, there will be three British drivers on the grid in 2011.
The Scot, who won last season’s DTM championship and took part in Friday practice sessions for Force India at eight races in 2010, will be making his F1 race debut on 13th March 2011 in Bahrain, and will also be on pre-season testing duties for the team.
Hulkenberg was dropped from the Williams team in favour of Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado, but showed promise throughout a 2010 season that peaked with pole position at the Brazilian Grand Prix.
“I am genuinely excited by the drivers we will be fielding in 2011,” said team principal Vijay Mallya, speaking at the announcement. “I believe that the combination of talent we’ve assembled gives us one of the strongest line-ups on the grid: Adrian has matured into one of F1’s most consistent and highly-rated young drivers, while Paul is, I believe, a real star of the future. He has won in every category in his career and this base speed was in evidence when he got in the car on Fridays last year.
“With Nico, signing him was too good an opportunity to let by. He showed a good racing head and talent and I was amazed by his control in Brazil last year. Together I think they are a formidable partnership and will help take us to the next level of performance.’
Di Resta, 24, said that securing a Formula 1 race seat is the realisation of a long-held dream, adding that he cannot wait until the season gets underway:
“Naturally I am thrilled to be making my race debut this season. Becoming an F1 driver has been a long-held ambition of mine, something I’ve wanted to do since I first stepped into a kart, and to finally realise it feels amazing.
I’ve worked really hard for this opportunity throughout my career and to get it with Force India, a young team that’s got ambitions as big as mine, is genuinely exciting. I can’t wait to be on the grid in Bahrain, it can’t come soon enough.”
Sutil had his best ever season in F1 last year, and is looking forward to building on that success in 2011. ‘I made my F1 debut with the team back in 2007 and we’ve worked together since then, so to stay for another year here feels very right,” said the 27-year-old German. “I’ve always said that I feel good in this team, it feels like family and when you feel good, you are confident and can push to your maximum.
“We’ve made some good progress together over the past four years and I’m excited to be part of the the team when it takes the next step, which is hopefully to become a front running team. We have the same ambitions so it makes a lot of sense to achieve them together.”
Hulkenberg did not appear to be to disappointed with the fact that he would not be racing next season, insisting that he was happy with a long-term contract with his new team. “I am happy I can stay in F1 in 2011,” said that 2009 GP2 champion. “I am looking forward to working with Force India and I am sure the team will continue improving in the future. I appreciate the team trusting me by signing a long-term contract. I will do my very best to live up to expectations.”