McLaren has an agreement with Paul di Resta to bolster its Formula 1 reserve driver line-up, as the drivers it shares with Mercedes will not be available for every grand prix.
Di Resta was McLaren’s nominated standby driver at last year’s 70th Anniversary Grand Prix, but the team also had an arrangement with Mercedes to share use of its reserves.
That has continued for 2021, with McLaren becoming a Mercedes customer team and Mercedes’ Formula E drivers Stoffel Vandoorne and Nyck de Vries available to it during the season.
The FE calendar is still in a state of flux but three confirmed events are still scheduled clash with F1 races, which mean Mercedes and McLaren will need alternative F1 back-up options.
Mercedes is expected to have use of Aston Martin’s new official reserve driver Nico Hulkenberg if necessary.
McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl joked “we will start calling people!” when asked by The Race what its plan was for races that the Mercedes FE duo are unavailable, then explained that it had opted to turn its one-off arrangement with di Resta into something more expansive.
“Our main focus is on this agreement that we have with Mercedes,” said Seidl.
“Also, what we had in place last year in Silverstone, we have a good relationship with Paul di Resta, who is also in possession of a superlicence.
“So we have an agreement with him as well in order to jump in if the requirement is there, so we’re prepared for different scenarios.”
Di Resta, who turned 35 on Friday, has not raced in F1 since a substitute appearance for Williams in the 2017 Hungarian Grand Prix.
Di Resta’s last full season came in 2013 with Force India. As an ex-F1 driver his possession of a superlicence is easily attained subject to FIA approval and a mandatory 300km test in an F1 car not more than 180 days prior to applying.
Seidl reiterated that the priority for McLaren was its Mercedes agreement and said that choosing between Vandoorne or de Vries would be done in collaboration with their employer.
“That’s obviously something we have to do together with Mercedes, depending on who’s actually on standby for Mercedes for a specific weekend,” said Seidl.
He left the door open to Hulkenberg being a potential option depending on exactly what the German’s relationship ends up being with Mercedes.
“We are depending on Mercedes,” said Seidl. “We simply have to follow what Mercedes is putting in place for the different weekends.”