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Biography

SEASON INFORMATION
15/08/2013

 

Biography

 
At the age of eight, Paul made his Karting debut, following in the footsteps of cousin Dario Franchitti - who was to go on to achieve great success in Indy Cars.

Over the next few years the youngster was to rise through the Karting ranks, finishing runner-up in the European championship in 1999 and winning the British championship in 2001.

In 2002, Paul made the switch to single-seaters, contesting the British Formula Renault Winter Series. He remained in Formula Renault for the next two seasons, finishing seventh in 2003 and third in 2004.

In addition to his impressive outings in the British Formula Renault series in 2004, Paul also contested several rounds of the of Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 and the Bahrain F3-Superprix in which he finished fifth. Unsurprisingly, he won the McLaren Autosport BRDC Young Driver of The Year Award, thereby following in the footsteps of his famous cousin once again, Dario Franchitti having won it in 1992. As part of his prize, the youngster got to test a McLaren F1 car at Silverstone.

In 2005, Paul moved up to the F3 Euroseries with Manor Motorsport. While it was a largely disappointing season for the Scot - he finished tenth overall - the following year he bounced back in style taking the title from under the nose of Sebastian Vettel, courtesy of five wins and four other podium finishes.

For 2007, Paul made the surprise switch to DTM with Trilux AMG Mercedes - once again following the path taken by his cousin. Finishing the season fifth overall, he was also was the highest placed driver in a non-2007 car.

Such was the impression he made on Mercedes in 2007, for 2008 he was handed a Mercedes C Klasse drive and he repaid the German manufacturer by finishing runner-up just 4 points behind title winner Timo Scheider in the Audi. He remained with Mercedes in DTM for 2009 this time finishing third overall behind Scheider and (McLaren tester) Gary Paffett.

Following the link-up with McLaren and Mercedes for the 2009 season, there was speculation that Paul might get a test seat, or even a race seat, with Force India, however, the Silverstone-based outfit opted for Giancarlo Fisichella, Adrian Sutil and Tonio Liuzzi.

Following three days of testing for the Indian team at Jerez in late 2009 - when he was consistently among the pace-setters - it was widely assumed Paul might get a race seat for 2010, but again it was not to be as the team retained Sutil and Liuzzi. However, on February 2, Paul was confirmed as official test and reserve driver.

In addition to his F1 duties, it was revealed that Paul would continue in DTM, the youngster determined to go one better than he did in 2008. Which he duly did.

Already enjoying a strong season, the HWA Team Mercedes driver took three straight wins at Brands Hatch, Oschersleben and Hockenheim, and despite a determined fight back from English rival Paffett, the Scot took the title by 4 points.

In F1, Paul made his practice debut for Force India on the Friday morning of the Australian Grand Prix weekend. There were further appearances at Sepang, Shanghai, Barcelona, Valencia, Silverstone, the Hungaroring and Monza.

In addition to the Young Driver test in Abu Dhabi, where he finished eighth overall, Paul also took part in two days of the subsequent Pirelli tyre test, finishing ninth overall.

Linked throughout the winter to the second seat at Force India in 2011, the situation was complicated by the fact that Tonio Liuzzi already had a contract in place. However, on January 26, Paul was confirmed as Adrian Sutil's teammate while Nico Hulkenberg was recruited as test and reserve driver.

On his F1 debut, in Melbourne, Paul out-qualified his teammate, however, next day the pair could only mange to finish eleventh and twelfth. The subsequent disqualification of the Sauber duo however, meant that Paul joined that elite club of drivers who have scored points on their F1 debut.

In seven of the next nine races, Paul out-qualified his teammate, however, Sunday afternoons were to prove a little more difficult. Although he scored another point in Malaysia, the Scot failed to secure a points finish in the next eight races.

For much of the season Paul was plagued by poor strategy, both on track and off, in qualifying and on race days. A typical example was Turkey where the youngster was released from his pit before time, the Scot subsequently losing a wheel at the end of the pitlane and having to retire.

In Canada he had an absolute nightmare. Running a convincing fifth, he collided with Nick Heidfeld and broke his front wing. He was subsequently given a drive through penalty for causing the collision. Later in the race, he was about to mount an attack on Rubens Barrichello for ninth place when he made an unforced error and hit a wall.

The VJM04 was a no frills machine, what some might call conservative. However, it was a solid foundation of a car that could be built upon, which is exactly what the team did. Having scored just twelve points in the first half of the season, from Germany the Silverstone outfit racked up a further fifty-seven, Paul responsible for twenty-five of them.

Seventh in Hungary, was followed by an eighth in Italy and a highly impressive sixth in Singapore, all of which helped his team leapfrog Sauber in the standings and ultimately claim seventh in the championship, its best result since 2002.

While there were obvious mistakes, it was easy to overlook the fact that this was the Scot's first season in F1. His consistency was amazing, the youngster completing more race laps than any of his rivals, 97.5% of the total laps that constituted the season. Indeed, there was only one retirement, that pesky loose wheel in Turkey, no wonder most regard him as their rookie of the year.

It was a no-brainer for Force India to retain him for 2012. However, he was to face stiff opposition from another rising star, Nico Hulkenberg.

Once again, 2012 saw Force India caught up in the war zone that is the midfield, the Silverstone-based outfit battling Sauber, Williams and Toro Rosso, though in all honesty much of fight was with its Swiss rivals. Once again the Indian team enjoyed a low key start to the season, gaining momentum as the year progressed. Indeed, from Belgium to Brazil the team enjoyed a run of nine races in which it scored points, a feat only managed (and bettered) by five other teams.

At its best on street circuits the VJM05 lost out as its rivals continued to bring on the updates. And there's the rub, for while Force India enjoyed a healthy run of points finishes in the second half of the season it could have been so much better however, as Technical Director Andy Green admitted following the summer shut down the team effectively gave up on development and instead switched focus to 2013. Just a bit more effort, a little more self belief and it is entirely possible that Force India could have beaten Sauber to sixth overall.

As expected, the pairing of Paul and Hulkenberg was strong, though the German clearly had the better season. While the Scot had some strong results, he lost momentum in the second half of the season, especially when it became clear that there wasn't going to be an invite from one of the bigger teams.

In many ways, Paul's season was encapsulated by the fact that he finished the season 14th in the standings on 46 points whilst a year earlier 27 points was good enough for thirteenth.

Largely outperforming Hulkenberg in the first half of the season, Paul visibly wilted after the summer break both in qualifying and in the races. There was the superb drive to fourth in Singapore but that was overshadowed by his teammate's performance in Brazil, the German coming very close to scoring a win and one of the true shocks of the season. By contrast, Paul crashed out of seventh place.

While di Resta continues with the team for 2013, despite no official announcement, even performing the unveiling of the VJM06 solo, it wasn't until February 28, the start of the final pre-season test, that Adrian Sutil was confirmed as his teammate. The reason for the dithering remains unclear and the speculation isn't helped by the various problems facing Vijay Mallya's other businesses.

The 50m investment programme must be carried out wisely and the VJM06 must be quick straight out of the box with development continuing for as long as possible - though that will be a challenge bearing in mind the regulation changes in 2014. The Silverstone based outfit faces a hard season in 2012.

Statistics - at the end of 2012 Season

Drivers' Titles: 0
Seasons in F1: 2
Grand Prix: 39
Wins: 0
Poles: 0
Fastest Laps: 0

Best result in 2012: 4th (Singapore)
Best qualifying 2012: 4th (Italy)
Worst qualifying 2012: 16th (India)

2012: Out-qualified Nico Hulkenberg 8 times
2012: Out-qualified by Nico Hulkenberg 12 times

2012: Completed 11375 out of 1192 laps (95.4%)
2012: Finished 19 times from 20 starts (95%)

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