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Williams open to Paul Di Resta return in 2018

Williams chief technical officer Paddy Lowe says the team is considering a full-time Formula One return for Paul di Resta as part of an "open-minded" approach to its driver line-up for next season.

Di Resta acted as a last-minute super sub for Williams at the Hungarian Grand Prix after being drafted in to replace regular driver Felipe Massa, who became unwell during the weekend. Despite having less than two hours' notice before qualifying, the Briton managed to out-qualify Sauber's Marcus Ericsson in what was his first taste of 2017 F1 machinery -- an experienced he likened to "jumping off a cliff".

Paul Di Resta. Photo from @TheBestF1es twitter account
The Scot, whose last grand prix prior to Hungary came at Brazil in 2013, enjoyed a smooth run on Sunday and stayed out of trouble, until he was forced into retirement with technical issues in the closing stages. His calmness behind the wheel and ability to quickly adapt drew praise from the Williams camp.

"I think he's done his reputation no end of good this weekend," Lowe said. "I think in the circumstances, Paul did an absolutely terrific job, as I think everyone recognised. For him to get a very reasonable lap time out of the car from only four timed laps from these cars which are the fastest cars in the history of the sport at a very technical track.

"He did a great job in qualifying, and he continued that form in the race with the procedures like race starts and tyre warm up procedures and so on. He did a respectable job, stayed out of trouble, drove consistently and gave good feedback at the end of the race. The real shame is that we didn't give him a car capable of getting to the end, something we're still trying to diagnose."

When asked if Di Resta's performance in Hungary has put him in contention for a race seat at Williams in 2018, Lowe replied: "I noticed that Mercedes said they might give him the same call, and that's the situation. We're very open-minded about what we're going to do for next year anyway. Being open-minded, we'll consider all options."

Williams is expected to retain Lance Stroll for a second year, and with Felipe Massa also keen to stay on next season, Lowe admits a crowded driver market could ultimately close the door on a full-time return to the sport for Di Resta.

"We've got a bit of a problem on the horizon with a lack of destinations for drivers that don't quite make it into Formula One," he explained. "We have unfortunately got the prospect of less destinations for accomplished drivers in the future with the position of LMP1 and DTM, which are really two of the next tier motorsports for conscious Formula One drivers."

Author: Lewis Larkam
Source: http://www.espn.co.uk/f1/story/_/id/20234114/williams-open-paul-di-resta-return-2018

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