Former Formula One driver and current DTM-driver Paul di Resta stepped in as Felipe Massa’s replacement after the Brazilian felt unwell over the practices of the 2017 Hungarian GP. That was the first time the Scotsman tried out the 2017-generation F1 machineries.
The former Ferrari-driver felt unwell and dizzy following the free practices on Friday. The Brazilian visited the medical centre of the Hungaroring and the Hovéd Hospital of Budapest on Friday evening and was cleared to race. However, the 11-time GP winner felt dizzy again after the final free practice and decided to withdraw from the weekend.
Paul di Resta, test driver of the Williams team was called up on Friday to get himself prepared to replace Massa. The Scotsman was ironing his shirt for his TV appearance when he was informed by Williams that the official driver won’t take part in the remainder of the event.
“It’s been a busy 18 hours, getting prepared to drive in case it did happen but unsure if it was going to. I was nervous and anxious. You’re unsure of how your ability is going to be when you get out there,” started the former DTM champion.
“I was ironing my shirt at 11 o’clock this morning preparing to be presenting on TV. But honestly, I quickly felt quite comfortable in the car. There was nothing that took me by surprise, it’s just the more laps you can do, the better it is. Getting thrown straight into qualifying is the deepest of the deep ends.”
As he did not have any meaningful time to carry out changes on Felipe Massa’s car, di Resta used all the settings and set-up of the Brazilian. However, he feels some fine-tuning could be made before the GP.
“To do it in four laps is a big ask, but honestly I didn’t expect to be so close straight away. I’ve carried on everything Felipe has done up until this session like the brake settings, the set-up and the steering wheel switches are all his, so of course it could be more optimised. But there is more ability to progress in me, gaining the speed and confidence in the car. These cars are the most special thing you’ll ever drive. It’s a tough ask to go straight into qualifying, but that’s what it’s about and you take these opportunities.”
The Mercedes-backed driver said he felt back at home after the few laps he managed to complete in the first qualifying session.
“Today has been very special. I felt back at home in a Formula One car, and the team prepared me as best they could. We go into tomorrow with a long and difficult day ahead, but at the same time one that I’m very much looking forward to challenge and to see how it goes,” concluded the 58 GP-starter.