F1 driver Paul di Resta tells CNN about his dream of driving for Ferrari one day
Scot, who has an Italian grandfather, looking forward to Italian Grand Prix at Monza
Force India driver hoping to claim a first podium finish of his career at famously fast circuit
The 27-year-old has finished in the top ten on seven occasions this season
Monza may be a long way from his birthplace in West Lothian, Scotland but Italy is unquestionably a home from home for Paul di Resta.
The Force India driver’s Italian heritage stems from his octogenarian grandfather, Felice who moved to Scotland from the village of Corigliano (an hour’s drive north of Naples) during his mid-twenties.
But as di Resta prepares for this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix, attention isn’t so much on the 27-year-old’s past but his future and whether he will join Ferrari next season.
Uncertainty surrounding Felipe Massa’s future – the Brazilian’s contract with the Ferrari F1 team expires at the end of the season – could mean di Resta’s long-harbored dreams of driving for the Italian marque come true sooner than he expects.
“When I was growing up, the Ferrari domination was the biggest thing in Formula One and equally my dad had a Ferrari so the red, with the Italian, the combination, it’s always been a dream,” Di Resta told CNN ahead of Sunday’s race.
“It’s always the thing I wanted to drive, the car. It sticks out and there is something very special with the prancing horse on the front.
“If I could get that opportunity one day I better grab it with both hands and certainly enable me hopefully to win races and win championships and gain my reputation in F1, one day to look back on.
“But winning races and winning championships is the important bit and that’s the ladder that I’m trying to work my way up to at the moment.”
As a young child Di Resta would frequently travel to Italy for family holidays and his connection with the country provides an added attraction to driving at Monza.
“It’s nice to come back and actually see your roots, where it all originated,” the Force India driver told CNN.
“To be racing on a second home soil, if you want to say for me, it probably makes it that extra little bit special.”
“I’ve been here obviously lots (as) a young child growing up and (on) family holidays. Equally, when I’ve been karting back in the day … we’d always come and stay here for a few days after the race and just to come and see everyone and get to know them,” he says.
“But it’s a bit of a surprise each time you come back. Italian families grow quite fast and there’s a lot of young children and a lot of people who make me feel old now!”
A retirement at last month’s Belgian Grand Prix at Spa cannot detract from what has been the Scot’s most successful season since joining Formula One in 2011. Seven top ten finishes, including a fourth place at Bahrain in April, have helped di Resta to 10th place in the drivers’ championship.
“The season so far has been a very positive one for Force India,” added di Resta. “To date, it’s the most points we’ve scored. We were fifth in the Constructors’ Championship until the last race, unfortunately we lost out to McLaren but it’s been difficult with the tire construction change recently. But we’re hopeful we can certainly bounce back and Monza is one of the places that generally suits our car.”
The historic track located a few miles north of Milan is comfortably the fastest on the calendar, with cars going in excess of 340 kph (211 mph) in certain sections.
“I think what really stands out from other grand prix is that it’s a completely different downforce. It’s all about top speed,” di Resta explains.
“The car is moving about a lot – a lot more than it normally would – and it usually generates some excellent racing. And to date it’s my best qualifying. I qualified fourth, so (I have) high hopes for doing something special this year.”
A first podium finish would propel the hungry Scot into uncharted territory and provide further evidence of his capabilities in Ferrari’s own back yard. But for now, he’s enjoying the familial atmosphere at Force India.
“I think we, as a team, have punched way above our weight in terms of what resources we have and what we’ve achieved. It’s more of a family unit … The way the team works at the moment is exceptional.”