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Paul di Resta to race for Williams F1 as unwell Felipe Massa pulls out of Hungary
Posted By: Editor   |  29 Jul 2017   |  4:55 pm GMT  |  38 comments

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.

Have your say on Paul di Resta’s unexpected role in the comment section below.

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James, don’t you think it would be a good idea if F1 management made the 2 preseason tests 5 days each, with one day strictly allocated for test/reserve drivers? F1 is too serious a sport and business for this kind of situation. Reserve drivers should have experience in driving a current spec car before they drive in a Grand Prix.
I know they are rarely required, but we’ve had substitute drivers appearing in a Grand Prix for the last 3 seasons now…. Food for thought.

særen christensen

Sure, it was a great effort by PDR. That he went so well, shows a great talent, who was lost too soon, but is also a sign of, how F1 has turned out to be during the recent years.
Management of F1 is sadly (still) in the hands of FIA. A bunch of French led, socialist, hypocrite types. If this goes on, we can be sure after 3-5 years F1 is not F1, but FE.
The ugly Halos (Kevin Magnussen described them right) which shall be introduced from 2018, against the wish of all drivers and teams (although some dare not say it loudly), are just a part of several daft decisions.
That F1 cars must be “green”, saving fuel in the races and testing not permitted are others.
I surely hope the new owners of the commercial rights will have the power to change this situation, so we again can have F1 racing as real, fast and loud entertainment, with the best drivers, and no rich daddys sons.
F1 of today is hardly faster than 15 years ago. This is not the kind of development in the Worlds fastest car racing, we should have.
Chase Carey et. al. have taken the first initiatives to better things, now the need to get rid of Jean Todt and his friends must be next steps.


Not that great really – I know its different day, different circumstances etc but Kubica has already gone quicker than the grumpy Scot managed in quali and Robert only has one arm working properly!!!!



who is reserve driver for Mercedes if either Hamilton or Bottas are unwell enough to drive?


I’ve always thought Di Resta was an underrated talent, unfortunately let down by what seemed to be his arrogance – regularly blaming his equipment or team.

Yet since presenting on SKY F1 he seems to have come out of his shell. I wish him the best today, and genuinely hope he can have a race worthy of his talent.


First time Brundle has taken a driver out of a race since flipping the Jordan in Oz? 😉

Get well soon MB and FM, not nice thing to have. Was like a fraction of a second time delay on your ear fluid to brain balancing senses every time you move your head. Lasted 3 weeks for me a few years back but especially bad not knowing how many weeks or months you can have it for.

Good luck to Paul, a better driver than the current Williams setup. Good effort in Q1, shame Williams didn’t commit sooner and give him FP3 also. Anyone that can beat Seb Vet as F3 teammate and match Hulks pace will be no slouch. This must be a harder task than any previous reserve driver though. Never driven the car, one of the worst tracks for Williams with their poor aero, new 2017 frequent spinning cars slower than FI, HASS, Renault, McLaren, Torro, no idea of full fuel running and a track almost as bad as Monaco for overtaking! Good luck!


the cleanest solution is to allow 3rd cars in free practice sessions again
allows everyone to get the running they need, literally


Here is a driver that was the original tutor for Grosjean’s degree in moaning! Since leaving F1 he has become likeable again and i do enjoy his commentating. To take over Massa’s drive with virtually zero experience of the car is most credible and shows what a talent this lad still has. I was rather impressed. I hope that he does well today and that he can simply finish the race. To do that will be a job well done.


Mega Laps from PDR.


This has given me another great opportunity to rant about the F1 testing rules. I still, and always will think that the fact you can spend gazillions of pounds building an F1 car but can’t put it on a track and drive it till your hearts content, is fundamentally and absolutely ridiculous.

Full marks to PDR for jumping into the car and getting a very respectable performance out of it despite never having driven the car or even a car like it before. I’m sure his talent will shine through tomorrow, I may be biased as a felllow Scot but I feel Paul never got a fair crack at the whip, he probably isn’t a Lewis Hamilton or Seb Vettel but he is a good driver and is probably better than at least half the current field. Good luck Paul!


Good luck Paul


would be hilarious if he beat Stroll tomorrow …. but I only hope finish the race without any incident.


I think all he was hoping for in qualifying was that he was not last.. thanks to Ericsson, mission accomplished


It does strike me that we have a daft situation when the reserve driver has no time in the car. It would make sense for a reserve driver to have to test at least twice during the season in a current car, it doesnt have to be a special test, any Friday practice would do but t=surely to ensure familiarity all Reserve drivers must have seat time in the current car


Its called leave it to Claire …..
honestly she’s basically in a holding patter with the team until they find a real racer because with the package they have in the car at the moment, the only thing that can set them apart is some fantastic talent in the car.

Take Strolls cash and wait it out seems to be her play.


I expect Claire to replace Stroll with Paul should he outpace and out finish the kid.


Sterling work from Paul. Having had no experience of driving the 2017 car, qualifying without incident and ahead of Ericsson has to be commended


It shows how quickly an F1 driver can pick up the feel of a car – expect to see PDR get faster during the race

Oops! Someone’s put the number 40 onto the car a bit squiffy!


What! Is Pedro De La Rosa driving?
I think you mean DIR 😀


Do you mean ROS?

harvey bushell

Quite the couple of weeks for DiResta. He gets called last minute to fill in for Martin Brundle at Silverstone (and does an excellent job) then gets asked equally last minute to drive for Massa. Considering he hasn’t raced in 4 years he did well to more than keep up with the pack in qualifying. I hope he has a safe race (and keeps away from Daniil Kvyat the human torpedo).

Best wishes to MB as well. Hope he gets well soon.


I thought about it meanwhile and I think what Paul showed today is good for him but isn’t good for F1 at all. He was out of business for what? Four years? Ericsson seems to be really, really bad. So is Stroll. But money talks. Look at Palmer. GP2 champion and really gets destroyed or destroys himself about every second weekend.

Kubica will have a lot of fun and will be quick. The cars might be faster than 4 years ago, but they are still easy to drive. The good old times are loooong gone. Next year maybe only 3 engines for 20+ races….. plus the ugly HALO.

Di Resta should be at least 1.5 seconds behind his teammate and everybody else.


That’s a good point about Ericsson, getting beat by a guy who hasn’t raced in over 3 years, Sauber or not (Wherlein didn’t get beat…), that’s just brutal.

That tetrepac company is backing the wrong Swedish horse, they should sponsor Rosenqvest if they want to be anywhere but dead last.


Stellar effort in qualifying. He must have managed only 8 or 9 laps in Q1, and was second fastest through the speed trap in that session. Not bad for a DTM driver who’s never driven the car before!


Best of luck to him, hope he has an enjoyable Sunday afternoon. His qualifying performance was great considering his lack of experience in the car!


Paul di Resta’s qualifying time puts Stroll’s performances into perspective. If Daddy wasn’t paying, Stroll would be out on his ear by now. Not only is he not fast, he’s not learning and still can’t fight to keep his position in races. I don’t know who’s worse, Stroll or Palmer.

Tornillo Amarillo

This is a missed opportunity for Dad Stroll to take Felipe’s seat… 🙂


Has he only got one son?

Tornillo Amarillo

Coincidentally, di Resta’s sole victory of the DTM season so far has come at the Hungaroring in June.

So it’s a no-brainer, eh!

I used to “not-like” Di Resta, he was moaning like Grosjean when he “was” a driver, but it’s like he learn to smile in front of the TV and he is doing a good job as a TV commentator and now he shows a very positive personality.

So good luck tomorrow for him and for Williams!


My first encounter with him was at James’ fan forum event way back when, this was before he’d actualy raced in F1, he was in a test role on his way up then.

He’s always seemed like a really nice fella to me. As a driver he always capable, perhaps not one of the elite few, but certainly more deserving of a seat than many other drivers I could mention.

I hope he goes well today.


Nice comment…hope he rips it!


Yet again, the fallacy of the testing ban has implications – a reserve driver who has done very little mileage in his machine at the last minute has a call up to race! Despite practically never sat his posterior in his stallion under full racing conditions……..he did pretty well in the circumstances.

For goodness sake, grand prix racing should be free market-free trade capitalism, not ruled by a nanny state you can’t run outside of a race socialist nonsense! If a constructor wants to dotesting in between events to allow their young drivers/reserve drivers a bit of experience and “feel” they should be allowed to. And if anything, a young/reserve driver is less of a liability if he has experience of the car he’s driving (i.e comfortable in it and knowing how to set it up for it’s optimum).

The testing ban is self defeating. End of.


Only problem with free testing is that the teams might need more power units outside the race pool. Having said that it is unprofessional of Williams to run a driver who has had no time in the car but thess days Williams do not seem to make many good decisions so it is no surprise. The FIA should perhaps say that if you race you must have done at least X laps in the car either in pre season, in season testing or race pracice sessions. Surely Williams could give given their reserve drive one practice session? When they bought in Rob Smedley I thought things would improve. They didn’t. Then they bought in Paddy Lowe and it’s looking like deja vu! Williams have gone from being the best of the Mercedes customer teams in 2014 to being tail end Charlies. I blame the management! Having said all that Di Resta did OK in difficult circumstances but Team Willy need to get their act together.


Gaz Boy, I get your point, and pretty much agree with you. But there are 8 days or pre-season testing. Surely teams can afford to squeeze in a day for test/reserve drivers. Maybe give them 2 half days, i.e. today a morning session, tomorrow an afternoon session.


Maybe new Liberty F1 could run a reserve driver and upcoming drivers mini race, televised of course, after the main event, all teams fielding both cars, say three times a year…


It’s absolutely crazy!
Why hasn’t the FIA foreseen this? If they want to keep this ridiculous testing ban they should schedule test sessions 3 or 4 times a year for the reserve driver. And definitely when a new circuit is introduced.


You do know that F1 is a capitalist business that is not run by “the socialist nanny state”, right?
The primary reason F1 does anything is to make money. They have determined that unlimited spending results in less exciting competition, which results in fewer fans, which could result in no F1. That would then meet your definition of self-defeating.


I wish they have chosen GioviLiuzzi so he could become the first driver to crash driving for every racing team in F1.

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