Wolff hopes "unbelievable job" restarts di Resta's F1 career
Mercedes F1 boss Toto Wolff says that his DTM driver Paul di Resta did an "unbelievable job" in qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix.
The Scot replaced the unwell Felipe Massa at Williams after the Brazilian pulled out of the event following third practice.
Di Resta had never driven the FW40 before the start of qualifying, although he did have some prior experience of the 2014 FW36 test car that the Grove team has been running for Lance Stroll.
Despite being out of F1 since 2013, he qualified ahead of Sauber's Marcus Ericsson in 19th place, 0.76s behind Stroll, having run just five flying laps in Q1.
"Unbelievable job, honestly," said Wolff. "To be put in this car in qualifying, never having driven it, having done a handful of laps in a 2014 car to give some comparison for Lance, and driving a touring car regularly.
"And he's been catapulted into an F1 car, and is within seven tenths of his teammate, and doesn't look ridiculous at all, is a major achievement. I'm really happy for Paul, because that was in my opinion against all odds."
Like the other Mercedes DTM drivers, di Resta will be looking for work when the marque pulls out of the series at the end of 2018.
Wolff said that he would be happy if the Scot, who is still only 31, could find a way to return to F1.
"I think everything is possible. Let's see how he does tomorrow in the race. He's a very decent driver, you can see that in DTM. If this can be a relaunch of his F1 career, I would be the first one to cheer."
Wolff also suggested that di Resta could now be considered as a potential reserve driver for Mercedes, should the team need a last minute replacement.
Although the works outfit does in theory have access to Pascal Wehrlein, if the team were to require a driver change on Saturday it would be too late for the German to transfer across.
Asked who Mercedes would use in such circumstances, Wolff said: "It's a good question. Probably after today, Paul."
Williams technical chief Paddy Lowe also hailed di Resta's performance, and defended Massa's decision to drive in final practice despite having felt unwell already on Friday.
"It was really amazing," he said of di Resta's showing. "Clearly it would have been ideal for Paul to get P3 but it absolutely the right thing.
"Felipe thought he would be ok, he was signed off and we all wanted that to work but clearly he wasn’t ready to drive but it did mean we lost P3 for Paul.
"All the doctors said he was fine as well, so there was no question that he shouldn't drive P3 but it didn't work.
"But it did mean Paul was in at the deepest of the deep ends. These are arguably the quickest Formula 1 cars ever, thrown into the quickest F1 car in history – well, unfortunately not our particular one – but the formula."
Additional reporting by Edd Straw
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