F!: Mercedes eye Di Resta for next season

Bathgate’s Paul di Resta is being lined up to replace seven-times F1 world champion Michael Schumacher at Mercedes GP next season.

While the 42-year-old German continues to struggle for pace this season, Di Resta has continued to impress, despite his Sahara Force India car.

And though the 26-year-old Scot has long been linked with a switch to the German manufacturer, yesterday’s confirmation is the first official response by the team.

“Paul’s on our radar,” Mercedes CEO Nick Fry confirmed. “He has done a fantastic job, he’s a nice guy, he’s a great team player and he would be one of the drivers undoubtedly that, if Michael were to decide he didn’t want to continue, we would look at.

“We haven’t reached that time in our thinking yet, but we all have a lot of admiration for Paul.”

Although careful not to be critical of Schumacher, Fry admitted the German, who has twice finished tenth and had three retirements in five races this season, was likely to question his future if results don’t improve.

“If we get to the end of this year and it continues as it has done for the last few races, he will probably be asking himself that question,” he continued. “There is time to go and we are not making any decisions yet.”

Di Resta, has in the past admitted he would relish the prospect of moving to Mercedes.

“I’d love to drive for them,” he admitted earlier this year. “I’ve got great friends and great support at Mercedes-Benz. I’ve been part of their programme for six years and I’m still very close to them now. I never say never.

“Right now I’m a Sahara Force India driver, so the focus is there. But in the future I want to be winning races and I’ll make my decisions based on that. Every racing driver wants to race for the best team he can, and obviously I would be delighted if Mercedes came knocking at my door.

“I’ve achieved a lot of success with them in the past, and at some stage it would be nice to think I could do a job for them in Formula One.”