Paul di Resta: 'It’s much fun, it equally be frustrating'

Paul di Resta: 'It’s much fun, it equally be frustrating'

06-06-2023 18:00 Last update: 18:09

Ludo van Denderen

More and more manufacturers are finding their way to the World Endurance Championship and thus the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Peugeot started racing in the hypercar class a year ago. At Le Mans next weekend, it should become clear to what extent the French team has made progress in the past 12 months. Former F1 driver Paul di Resta guards against too much enthusiasm from the home crowd. But: "I can see the passion people have, that’s the most important thing."

No, it is not easy. Starting a new team and making it successful, especially in a growing and competitive class like the hypercars in WEC, is quite a job. Peugeot is currently experiencing what growth spurts there can be. Despite huge investments, the team finished ninth, fifth and seventh respectively in the 2023 endurance races. "You can see the performance of Toyota, we have seen that’s the summit, that’s the top," said Di Resta in an exclusive interview with GPblog. To the absolute top, that's where Peugeot wants to go too.

A high mountain to climb

"But I am sure when somebody starts to put them under pressure they increase more so you never know, race is very different. The best thing you can do I guess is just to keep developing, keep on forward. This is a new team, you can already see a big difference from Sebring to Portimao, have the operations and how things are changing, and how quick it moves forward. Even ten days ago we were on a race track and the changes are already coming here, and racing you never know how big that mountain is," Di Resta says of when the result will be visible to the outside world.

The Briton is no longer active as an analyst for Sky Sports. For Di Resta, taking part in the Peugeot project means a return to full-time racing. "It’s much fun, it equally be, I guess, frustrating in a sense when you see where we are, certainly the performance side, the reliability had some trouble, but I can honestly say I’m enjoying the journey part of it. I can see the passion people have, that’s the most important thing."

"Only I think is enjoyment when you win and when you look back on success, we have yet to see that. So I can’t honestly say that. But while you’re immersed in this program, it’s a job. You try to be professional. And yes it can be quite stressful, but it can be rewarding at the same time."

One last high

Meanwhile, Di Resta is 37 years old. In 2017, he drove his last Grand Prix on behalf of Williams. Until last season, he was active as a test and reserve driver, most recently with McLaren. Di Resta no longer has ties with F1 teams. However, he is by no means written off. With Peugeot, the former driver of Force India and Williams, among others, wants to perform one last trick.

"For sure, where I am in age," says Di Resta. "I want a long-term relationship and I’ve been very really loyal through my career. I saw this journey as something that had a lot of momentum in the future. Honestly, I love working with the people and that’s where to succeed with these people would be epic, because I can already see the enjoyment we have and the journey we have and the bits that we think are wrong and the bits we change, the bits that are good and where we’ve come from in the last couple of year. We keep going."

The competition will increase in the coming years, Di Resta realises. Following Peugeot, more teams will enter the hypercar class, usually with multiple cars. "Yes it is fun, it’s going to get even more fun I guess when more manufacturers come in. But at the same time, there are lots of things that can determine how successful you are and we need to make sure we can adapt."