Di Resta admits he was 'scared' on return
29 July 2017 – Paul di Resta has admitted that he was "scared" replacing the ill Felipe Massa at Williams shortly before Hungarian Grand Prix qualifying.
Massa contested Friday's practice sessions as normal, but visited the medical centre and then a local hospital after complaining that he felt ill.
He was cleared to take part in FP3, but ended his session early, as symptoms persisted, before withdrawing from the event, with reserve driver di Resta drafted in.
Di Resta, who last raced in Formula 1 with Force India in 2013, but has carried out several tests in recent years, had just two runs in Q1 to get up to speed.
On his second run, he managed to clock a 1:19.868, enough to split the Sauber drivers in 19th, just under eight-tenths away from regular driver Lance Stroll (17th).
Di Resta, who also acts as a pundit for Sky Sports, told his colleagues after the session: "Diving straight in, I'm not going to lie, I was scared, nervous, anxious… whatever.
"I've not driven one of these cars for three-and-a-half years, apart from 10 laps I did in a 2014 car.
"You then 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."
But despite the limited preparation time, di Resta, who also competes in the DTM for Mercedes, explained that he felt comfortable "quite quickly".
"Ultimately the team prepared me the best that they could, in an hour and a half," he laughed.
"I was very safe in the high speed, I was a bit safe on exits, didn't really use the rear tyre as I should.
"I could have stood on the loud pedal a bit quicker, but the pedal stroke is so much longer than I'm used to. You've got an extra two gears to downshift than I'm normally used to in DTM.
"Honestly, I felt quite comfortable quite quickly; when I let go of the pit limiter out there it was kind of there, I just built myself up and was improving by half a second a lap."
See also: 'No expectation' on stand-in di Resta