After Felipe Massa withdrew from the Hungarian Formula 1 Grand Prix, reserve driver Paul di Resta will take the wheel on Sunday having qualified 19th for the race.
Massa first reported feeling dizzy and nauseated during Friday’s practice sessions and the Brazilian had to pull out of Saturday morning’s FP3 session.
Williams elected reserve driver and DTM racer di Resta to take his place as regulations require a substitute to take part in at least one practice session to race in the GP – qualifying counts as a practice session – and di Resta qualified 19th for the race ahead of Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson.
The illness is not major, but as a precaution in a physically demanding car, Williams chose its reserve driver instead.
“Felipe visited the medical centre and the MH EK Honvedkorhaz hospital for precautionary tests on Friday, after feeling unwell and dizzy during FP2,” said Williams’ statement, issued on Saturday.
“Williams supports Felipe’s decision and the team will work with him to ensure he makes a full recovery, with a view to return to the race track for the Belgian Grand Prix.
“Following this decision, the team’s Reserve Driver Paul di Resta will drive alongside Lance Stroll for the remainder of the Hungarian Grand Prix weekend.”
31-year-old Di Resta was present at the Hungaroring to present in place of the unwell TV commentator Martin Brundle, who is also recovering from an illness.
Fellow Sky Sports presenter Natalie Pinkham tweeted earlier: “The doc says [Massa] has the same thing that affected [Brundle] – Viral labyrinthitis. Now 10 cases of it reported in the paddock.”
The Briton’s last GP presence was at the 2013 Brazilian GP, where he qualified 12th for Force India and finished 11th. Since then, the driver has run only in the 2014 FW36 test car, not the 2017 FW40.
“I’m sure he’s probably fairly nervous,” said Williams Deputy Team Principal Claire Williams before the qualifying sessions.
“But Paul is an experienced driver and I couldn’t feel happier actually that we have someone of Paul’s calibre and experience – even though he may not have taken part in a race weekend for a couple of years.
“He’s driven this era’s hybrid cars – he’s driven in our [FW]36 – so I have confidence.
“Of course it’s going to be tough. He hasn’t had any practice, and he’s got to get straight into qualifying in an hour’s time.”
The F1 stewards cleared di Resta to drive having released a statement four minutes before qualifying began. The FIA said that it was safe for six-foot-tall di Resta to exit the cockpit adequately in case of an accident and there was enough room for his knees in the cockpit. They also confirmed that the Briton was up to date with the Technical Regulations.
“I’m sure there are some nerves there, he hasn’t had much time to get ready, but I have utter confidence in him that if anyone can do this, Paul can,” continued Williams.
“It’s not as complicated as you probably imagine.
“There are a few changes to make inside the cockpit. Obviously Paul’s a little bit taller than Felipe, but they rehearsed it last night, and it takes about 40 minutes to make the changes. Paul has his licence, that’s all sorted, and obviously in preparation last night we knew that potentially this could be an option for us. So we made sure everything was in place.”
Di Resta’s time of 1m19.868s was enough to beat Sauber’s Ericsson – just over seven tenths slower than team-mate Lance Stroll who was 17th fastest in qualifying.
He is currently 12th in the DTM standings driving for soon-to-be absent Mercedes AMG. Coincidentally, di Resta’s sole victory of the DTM season so far has come at the Hungaroring in June.
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