It’s strange to think di Resta is still only 33, such is his experience in top-level motorsport. He raced Mercedes-powered cars for 14 straight years, beating Sebastian Vettel to a Euro Formula 3 title in 2006 before turning pro in the DTM and winning the title in 2010. Di Resta then became a rarity in successfully making the leap from the series to Formula 1, racing Merc-powered Force Indias for three seasons. Having been spat out before he deserved to be, Paul is back ‘home’ in the DTM while also racing LMP2 sports cars at Le Mans and in the World Endurance Championship.
So what’s the DTM like without Mercedes, to whom he admits he owes his career? “I still believe they are the heart of the championship,” he says, loyally. “It’s been a bit strange without them. I got proposed to do this, Mercedes was stopping and it seemed like the right time to go. They will always be missed, but whether they decide to come back I don’t know. That depends on who is on the board. If I was in charge they would still be here.”
His new programme, run by old Merc DTM hand HWA for R-Motorsport, exists under licence to Aston rather than as an official ‘works’ effort, but boss Andy Palmer attended the first race this season and gave a very public blessing. The DTM isn’t an obvious fit, but Aston Martin is widening its perspective on all fronts right now and, says di Resta, its presence is already helping freshen up a predominantly German flavour. A long-mooted tie-up with Japan’s Super GT series is about to become reality, with a trial race at Fuji on 23-24 November.
“I have been a part of the DTM and heard this story for the past 10-12 years and it has never come to light – but it has now,” says di Resta. “I fundamentally believe that has a lot to do with Aston Martin coming in. It’s about not being too German and collaborating so that Lexus, Toyota and Nissan can run cars in Europe and we run cars in Japan.
“The chassis regulations are the same, engines are close and at Fuji they will bring them together to see what will work. We’ve taken a lot of aero off DTM and added spec parts, so I suspect the Japanese will do the same and then see on engine power. They have a tyre war as well, so that’s something else that needs sorting.”