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The Rise and Fall of Paul

Saturday 14-December-2013 15:25

There's only one person having a worse end to 2013 than Paul di Resta and that's Bernie Ecclestone.

While Bernie fights off the legal challenges from German media groups and German banks, and now has to contend with Britain's Labour party trying to investigate him in belated revenge for the £1m cash-for-fags debacle, Paul di Resta has been officially announced as a former employee of Sahara Force India.

He's also been involved in a court battle with Anthony Hamilton about unfair dismissal from his role as Paul's manager

Given the tenor of a lot of his post-race interviews the Scot often carries a burning sense of injustice when he's treated unfairly, and the fact that his team-mate Adrian Sutil - who he regularly outqualified and outscored - will be moving across to Sauber will be a source of great frustration.

Di Resta's plight shows what a fickle business Formula 1 is - from 2012 right through to 2013 he was talked about as a potential driver for Ferrari, Red Bull and McLaren. And now he's likely to be out. With very little sponsorship behind him he can't pay his way into a seat.

A few weeks ago Caterham were making noises about how they might not necessarily take a 'pay driver' having seen that an experienced driver can bring far more performance to the car than they can get from the money brought by a sub-standard pay driver.

However this week Caterham boss Cyril Abiteboul has made it clear that if they don't get cash up front they want a lot of promotion work. "It is not that you have paying drivers or non-paying drivers," he told Autosport. "Some drivers have made it very public - and it annoys us - that they will not make any form of contribution, which honestly I do not like because everyone is making a contribution."

Given Di Resta's track record of whingeing about his team and saying how available he is to other teams, doesn't make the prospect of a drive at Caterham a happy marriage.

Not having Di Resta on the grid is not as big a waste of talent as not having Nico Hulkenberg in a race car, but it's close. When they were together in 2012 the Team-Mate Wars score for the season was Hulk 11 Paul 9.

Di Resta is a very good driver, he beat Sebastian Vettel when they were in F3 in the same team together, but significantly, he was brilliant in DTM. Many F1 drivers have quit F1 to go into the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters including Ralf Schumacher, Mika Hakkinen and David Coulthard, but none has had any sniff of regular success. In three seasons Paul was second, third and first.

That kind of Jim Clark-like versatility in a racing car is rare to see, and there should be no problems about his future employment. Neither can he have any grouch with Vijay Mallya who gave him a lot of grands prix in which to hone his CV.

Will Force India be getting a better driver in Sergio Perez? The acid test will be his performances against Hulkenberg. Certainly in taking Checo for the second car, Force India have given themselves the biggest weight range between drivers, Perez being one of the lightest and Hulk being the de facto hulkiest. That might give them a few set-up headaches, where changes to Nico's car won't necessarily carry across to the more ballasted Perez car.

But when you're looking to do your technical partner (McLaren) a favour and the driver comes with $15m of sponsorship (the difference between 5th and 6th in the Championship) and having light drivers will be at a premium in weight-conscious 2014, what's not to like about Sergio Perez.

However Nico Hulkenberg has sat out a season and returned and it could be possible for Paul to do the same. In which time a small amount of public relations training wouldn't go amiss.

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