'Plenty of potential' for Williams super-sub di Resta

Paul Di Resta, Williams, Hungarian Grand Prix
© XPB 

Williams reserve driver Paul di Resta had just 90 minutes warning that he would indeed be taking part in qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix, after a poorly Felipe Massa ruled himself out.

The Scottish driver had originally been put on stand-by on Friday evening. Massa had been dispatched to hospital complaining of feeling sick and dizzy after FP2. But Massa felt well enough to take part in final practice on Saturday morning, and di Resta resumed his normal media duties

That all changed when Massa felt ill again during the hour-long session. He made the decision to withdraw, which meant that di Resta was dropped right into the thick of it.

"Diving straight in, I'm not going to lie - I was scared, nervous, anxious, whatever you want to do," the 31-year-old told Sky Sports F1.

"Then you get thrown into qualifying, which is the deepest of all deep, I think. It's like jumping off a cliff and seeing how you can fight for survival.

"I've never driven one of these days for three and a half years, apart from ten laps I did in a 2014 car," he continued. "Ultimately the team prepared me as best they could. I was here quite late last night."

As it turned out, driving a Formula 1 car turned out to be like riding a bike. Admittedly a very, very fast bike.

"Honestly, I felt quite comfortably quite quickly," he insisted. "When I let go of the pit limiter out there, it was kind of there.

"I built myself up slowly and was improving by half a second a lap, so there's still plenty of potential there," he said, looking forward to Sunday's race. "I won here a month ago in DTM, so maybe that was a benefit."

Di Resta didn't have the time to work on the car's set-up, and simply had to take the package as it came.

"You carry all of Felipe's brake settings, steering settings, set-up - everything you work through the weekend to do. It's difficult," he admitted.

Despite his lack of time in the current FW40, he out-qualified Sauber's Marcus Ericsson and will start from 19th. He was only two places and seven tenths of a second behind Williams' regular driver Lance Stroll.

"These cars are top of their game," he said. "It's like being back at home driving the best balanced car you've ever driven. Of course Ferrari is on pole and I'm sure that was a dream to drive today."

Di Resta did admit being aware of the intense scrutiny he was under on Saturday. It was his first time in an F1 cockpit since the 2013 Brazilian Grand Prix with Force India.

"When you get in a Formula 1 car, I know from standing on the side and I've got my professional ears on the media side, everybody's got their eyes on you and pick up on every mistake," he said. "And there's a fairly packed crowd here too."

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