One of the more bizarre episodes in F1 of the last couple of years has now been resolved with an out of court settlement between Paul di Resta and Anthony Hamilton, father of Lewis.
Hamilton briefly managed Di Resta, but the pair fell out spectacularly in 2012 over a mooted sponsorship deal for an energy drink and it led to Hamilton suing Di Resta for wrongful termination of contract and loss of earnings. The court case at the end of last year in London was painful to watch for both sides, with the evidence coming out on how their relationship had deteriorated.
Hamilton was accused by Di Resta’s lawyer of falsifying evidence by backdating emails and notes on his BlackBerry and at one stage he dramatically asked to return to the witness box to clarify evidence he had given. He had claimed that a box containing Blackberry devices containing evidence had gone missing in a house move. But then he found it again. Di Resta, meanwhile was made out by Hamilton’s lawyers to be “fixated” by the chance to make millions from the sponsorship deal.
“I am very sorry that Paul and I fell out to the extent we did, and I am pleased to put this matter to bed,” Hamilton said after the settlement.
The issue has caused some damage on both sides, with Di Resta’s options for an F1 seat limited in terms of being able to align himself with a team Lewis Hamilton was driving for; McLaren up to the end of 2012 and since then Mercedes.
That said, Di Resta now finds himself back in the German DTM series with Mercedes and it cannot be ruled out that he might find himself with a reserve driver role with the F1 team if the hatchet is now buried with Hamilton Sr.
Mercedes, like all top teams, has a need for experienced and quick drivers for its simulator programme, especially during a Grand Prix weekend when it can provide useful leads on set up for the race team at the track. Once the cars finish their practice sessions on Friday, for example, and the data is processed, the simulator crew at a team’s factory can keep “virtually testing” through the night, if necessary to find solutions and replicate problems.
There is also the occasional need – in the event of illness to one of the race drivers – for a reserve driver to fill the seat at a race weekend.
It will be interesting to see whether Di Resta’s position within Mercedes’ orbit changes now that the Hamilton case is resolved. Di Resta is now managed by the same group, led by Richard Goddard, that manages Jenson Button and McLaren reserve driver Stoffel Vandoorme.