Vijay Mallya says Paul Di Resta 'did nothing wrong' as Force India sought change
Force India owner explains decision to drop Di Resta & Sutil
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 13/12/13 10:51am
Having already announced the return of Nico Hulkenberg for next season, Force India confirmed on Thursday that they would field an all-new line-up in the forthcoming year via the expected unveiling of McLaren exile Sergio Perez in a press conference at the Mexican ambassador's residence in central London.
The signings of Hulkenberg and Perez mean that Force India's 2013 pairing of Di Resta and Sutil, both stalwarts of the Silverstone-based team, are on the lookout for alternative employment. However, while Sutil is expected to join Sauber, Di Resta looks set to drop off the grid for 2014 completely - with a switch to IndyCar or return to German touring cars his most likely options.
Asked why Di Resta had lost his seat, Mallya, Force India's Team Principal and co-owner, made clear that he hadn't been unhappy with the Scot's performances, implying that the relationship had simply run its natural course.
"Nothing went wrong with Paul Di Resta," the Indian insisted.
"I like him, he's a great friend and hopefully he'll remain a great friend. But every team needs to move on. We gave Paul a good stint with us, it wasn't just a one-year stint. So we gave him the opportunity, he delivered for us."
Mallya added that the team as a whole had felt that a dynamic new partnership of Hulkenberg and Perez would help galvanise the outfit for the start of F1's new regulation era.
"I could have retained either of my existing drivers but at the end of the day we've had them and we've had long relationships with both. Adrian Sutil had a one-year break and came back to us," he said.
"I consulted my other team members and they all said 'new car, new regulations, let's get a new set of drivers who have got fire in their belly and are really hungry'. Sergio fits that bill and so the combination of Checo and Nico works fantastically for me."
With Di Resta's hopes of staying on the grid for next season now in severe jeopardy, Mallya expressed hope that it wasn't the end of the F1 road for the 27-year-old and that bridges between the two wouldn't be burnt by the separation.
"He's a great guy, he's a good driver. I've got nothing against Paul or Adrian for that matter, they both remain very good friends," he said.
"The bottom line is that I wish him all the best, I wish he stays in the Formula 1 paddock. But don't forget I brought him into Formula 1 from DTM, I gave him that opportunity.
"I was happy to give him that opportunity, I don't regret it one bit. So I hope he stays and who knows sometime in the future they'll be another opportunity. Nobody can guess what happens in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 onwards."
Having appeared to have known his Force India fate for several weeks, Di Resta took to Twitter in the wake of the Perez announcement to thank the team for his four years with them and declare that "now time for a new challenge for me in the next phase of my career".
Just want to take this opportunity to thank @clubforce for 4 great years. As a team we've come a long way in our time together- Paul Di Resta (@pauldirestaf1) December 12, 2013
But it's now time for a new challenge for me in the next phase of my career and I wish them all the best for the future #beenapleasure- Paul Di Resta (@pauldirestaf1) December 12, 2013