Force India to test di Resta and Hildebrand
The Force India Formula One Team is delighted to confirm a dynamic, exciting driver line-up for the young driver test from 1 - 3 December 2009. Upcoming British driver Paul di Resta and current Indy Lights champion American JR Hildebrand will share driving duties of the VJM02 for the test in Jerez, Spain next week.
Twenty-three year old Paul and 21-year old JR were selected after outstanding performances in the team's simulator last month.
Paul, from West Lothian, Scotland, is a Mercedes works driver in the German touring car series, the DTM, and finished third overall with one win in the 2009 championship. He also has an impressive record in the junior formulae, winning the 2006 Formula 3 Euroseries against a field including current F1 race winner Sebastian Vettel. In 2004 Paul was awarded the prestigious McLaren Autosport BRDC Young Driver of the Year Award for upcoming, stand-out young British racing talent.
JR, from California, USA, has quickly risen to prominence on the American racing scene thanks to impressive results in the junior formula and, most recently, his victory in Indy Lights, the feeder series to the USA's premier racing championship. In 2006 he secured the Formula Ford 2000 championship title and in 2007 was the top placed US rookie in the Atlantic championship.
Dr Vijay Mallya, chairman and team principal of Force India, commented, 'We are delighted to have Paul and JR join us for the young driver test. Both of their showings in the simulator were excellent and we had no hesitations in offering them some valuable testing. We will be looking at their performance on track very closely and should they perform well, as we are confident they will, we will look at a permanent role for one within the team in 2010, potentially as a test and reserve driver. As a young team we are looking for drivers who can grow with us. As we've always said, nationality isn't the primary selection criteria - it's talent and dedication to the cause and we have seen enough to know that these two have both.'
Paul di Resta added, 'I am thrilled to be joining Force India for this test. It's been a while since I last tested an F1 car but I've been working hard in the simulator and giving it my all in the DTM so I'm confident I'll be up to speed quickly. It's an exciting opportunity for me as F1 has always been my dream and I feel this is taking me one step closer to achieving it. I'm realistic that I've got a lot to prove and that I need a bit more experience of the cars and the F1 environment before getting a permanent seat but this is just the beginning of what I hope will be a very bright future with Force India. I'd like to thank Mercedes for giving me this opportunity and to Force India for being so supportive.'
JR Hildebrand said, 'I'm ecstatic to get my first taste of F1. I've heard so much about the performance of the cars and know this is going to be quicker and more responsive than anything I've ever sat in before. I know it's a big challenge but I feel ready to tackle it. The aim is to learn the track and the car and then hopefully show my potential. As an American we don't necessarily have the culture of F1 but anything that's so impressive and cutting-edge demands respect. I hope I can do the car and myself justice. Thanks to everyone for making this happen, I can't wait to get to Jerez.'
The testing program will be as follows:
Day one: JR (morning) / Paul (afternoon)
Day two: Paul (morning) / JR (afternoon)
Day three: TBA (dependent on progress of test program)
Quick Paul di Resta facts:
He made his debut in a two year-old Mercedes C-Klasse in 2007 and finished fifth overall in the final standings. His performance earned him a full-time works Mercedes drive in 2008. That year he claimed two wins and second overall
- In 2004 Paul won the McLaren Autosport BRDC Young Driver of the Year, following in the footsteps of his cousin Dario Franchitti and fellow Scotsman David Coulthard
- Paul has tested a McLaren F1 chassis twice, the last occasion coming in October 2008
- Paul is still based in Bathgate, Scotland, where he grew up. He is part of a racing 'dynasty' with cousins Dario Franchitti the current IndyCar champion and Marino Franchitti an accomplished sportscar driver
Quick JR Hildebrand facts:
- JR will be the first American racing driver to sit in a Formula 1 car since Scott Speed raced for Toro Rosso in the early stages of 2007. Prior to that Michael Andretti was the last American to compete in F1, back in 1993
- JR is the reigning Indy Lights champion
- JR started karting at age 14 in the Jim Russell Arrive and Drive Championship in California. He won his first-ever race and went on to win the series championship with four wins out of six races. In 2003 he raced in the Jr. 80cc Shifter class, finishing a close second in the standings, and at the end of that year made the transition to cars by winning the Jim Russell Graduate Runoffs, thus earning a free year of racing in the SCCA Formula Russell Championship Series for 2004. In 2006 he moved to Formula Ford 2000 before graduating to Formula Atlantic in 2007
- JR also holds a place at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has been granted a two year deferral to pursue his career in racing