The Scot, who has only driven 10 laps of a 2014 Williams car in three-and-a-half years, qualified P19 for Sunday’s race – quicker than Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson – and described the whole event as “absolutely unreal”.
“Unbelievable job, honestly,” said Wolff when asked by the news source Autosport about di Resta’s performance.
“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 team-mate, 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.”
Di Resta says about his short-lived afternoon in Hungary following swapping Sky Sports commentary duty for the cockpit of the FW40.
“I’ve not driven one of these cars for three-and-a-half years, apart from 10 laps I did in a 2014 car, and then you get thrown into qualifying which is the deepest of all deep ends – it’s like jumping off a cliff and seeing how you fight for survival.”
Di Resta, though, then said he quickly adapted with the car, despite never driving the massively quicker 2017 F1 car before.
“Honestly I felt quite comfortable quite quickly. As soon as I let go of the pit limiter it was kind of there and I was improving by half a second a lap. There is still plenty of potential there. He added
“These cars are top of their game and it’s like being back at home driving the best balanced car you’ve ever driven. The team prepared me as best as they could. It was absolutely unreal.
“I was very safe in the high speed and a bit safe on exit. I could have stepped on the loud pedal a bit quicker but the pedal stroke is so much longer than I’m used to and there are an extra two gears to downshift. It’s about getting your bearings again.”