None of the Force India drivers could get a top-10 result in the free practice session on Friday ahead of qualifying but Adrian Sutil is confident of securing a good place on the grid for the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.
Force India evaluated Pirelli tyre, assessed the new rear wing, cooling of engine apart from KERS and brakes in session one and focus shifted to long run comparisons at race fuel, test of the DRS race mode and SC systems in the second and final session.
Sutil was 13th fastest in the opening session with a timing of 1:29.314 and despite improving the timing to 1:28.583 he could manage only 17th position in the second.
Force India’s new signing Nico Hulkenberg was at 18th position in the first session with a timing of 1:31.002 while rookie Paul de Resta pipped Sutil in FP2 by clocking 1:28.376 for the 16th position.
“It was not a bad day. We had quite a few new components on the car to test and the rear wing made a good difference.
In the second session we put it all together with a few more sets of tyres, but we had a small issue with the floor and lost a little bit of running.
“I am getting to grips with operating the KERS and the rear wing and am confident in the system. I am aiming to qualify mid-table tomorrow — I think that is possible, so let’s see what we can do,” Sutil said.
However, for India’s Narain Karthikeyan it was perhaps a frustrating day as the car of his team — Hispania Racing — was not yet ready and he will go into the tomorrow’s qualifying without any practice.
By the end of second session, HRT managed to get one car ready and Narain’s teammate Tonio Liuzzi completed one lap.
McLaren ended the second session of practice one and two with Jenson Button pipping teammate Lewis Hamilton by 0.132s.
Button lapped in 1m 25.854s and Hamilton in 1m 25.986s and they were the only racers under 1m 26s.
Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso got close with 1m 26.001s and following him was Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel with 1m 26.014s.
Vettel was closely followed by teammate Mark Webber, who clocked 1m 26.283s.
Di Resta was happy to get behind the wheel of his VJM 02 and is excited for tomorrow’s qualifying.
“It was good to have the opportunity to start my season today. We were able to complete our planned programme and the tyres performed better than I expected. Overall I felt quite comfortable with the new systems on the car, but until I get into a competitive situation it is still too early to say how we’ll do,” he said.
Dominic Harlow, circuit engineering director, said, “We had two objectives for the first practice session; for Nico to gather as much data on the prime tyre as possible and for Adrian to evaluate a new rear wing. It’s been a productive day and we are looking ahead to what will be a fascinating race weekend.”
Keywords: Formula One 2011