Force India has announced that Scottish driver Paul di Resta and current Indy Lights champion American JR Hildebrand will be tested on the VJM02 car in Jerez, Spain next week for a potential test or reserve driver’s role in the team for next season.
Twenty-three-year-old Paul and 21-year-old Hildebrand were selected for the December 1-3 test drive after their outstanding performance in the team’s simulator last month.
Paul is a Mercedes works driver in the German touring car series, the DTM, and finished third overall with one win in the 2009 championship. He also has an impressive record in the junior formulae, winning the 2006 Formula 3 Euroseries against a field including current F1 race winner Sebastian Vettel.
In 2004, Paul was awarded the prestigious McLaren Autosport BRDC Young Driver of the Year Award for up and coming, stan-out young British racing talent.
Hildebrand, from California, has quickly risen to prominence on American racing scene thanks to impressive results in junior formula, most recently his victory in Indy Lights, the feeder series to USA’s premier racing event.
In 2006, he secured Formula Ford 2000 championship title and in 2007 was the top placed US rookie in the Atlantic championship.
Force India chairman and team principal Vijay Mallya said a satisfactory test drive could result in one of the two youngsters getting a test or reserve driver’s job next season.
“We are delighted to have Paul and JR join us for the young driver test. Both of their showings in the simulator were excellent and we had no hesitations in offering them some valuable testing. Should they perform well, as we are confident they will, we will look at a permanent role for one within the team in 2010, potentially as a test and reserve driver,” Mallya said.
“As a young team we are looking for drivers who can grow with us. As we’ve always said, nationality isn’t the primary selection criteria — it’s talent and dedication to the cause and we have seen enough to know that these two have both.”
An elated Paul said, “I am thrilled to be joining Force India for this test. It’s an exciting opportunity for me as F1 has always been my dream and I feel this is taking me one step closer to achieving it. ... this is just the beginning of what I hope will be a very bright future with Force India.”
Hildebrand said, “I’m ecstatic to get my first taste of F1. I know it’s a big challenge but I feel ready to tackle it. I hope I can do the car and myself justice.”