Formula One's European season got underway at the Circuit de Catalunya today with two free practice sessions ahead of Sunday's Spanish Grand Prix. The Force India Formula One Team made good progress over the 90 minute practices, ending the day with both cars inside the top 12.
Tonio Liuzzi and Paul di Resta put the VJM03 through its paces in FP1, completing 19 and 21 laps to record the 15th and 13th quickest lap times respectively. Adrian was back in his regular car for FP2 as work continued on comparing the performance of the Bridgestone Potenza tyre options available this weekend and evaluating the new mechanical and aero updates introduced for this race.
Adrian posted the 10th quickest time while Tonio rounded off the top 12 with a best lap of 1:21.904.
Adrian Sutil (car 14)
"Today was a pretty good day. I sat out the earlier practice session but we got all the data we needed from the afternoon to be able to understand the tyre performance and how the new aero parts we have brought to the track affect our performance. Overall everything seems to be working well. We could do extended runs on both the hard and soft tyre compounds and I was quite happy with the balance on both. The soft tyres take a couple of laps to come in but when they do they seem to work quite well. I think we're in good shape for tomorrow's qualifying - I think we should be where we were in China or even higher."
Tonio Liuzzi (car 15)
"Overall today was good. In the morning we had a bit of a problem as I got a flat spot on my front right tyre on my first run. As we only use one set of tyres in this session, it affected the second run as it changed the balance of the car and we couldn't really set a representative time or test too many things. In the afternoon though we did some good work on each of the runs with a few different settings with different fuel levels, so the way we need to go is quite clear. We are suffering a little with understeer so we have some changes to make for tomorrow but in general it's not too bad. I think we will perform well in qualifying tomorrow."
Paul di Resta: "Having had the experience of the first three races and having got more familiar with Adrian's car, I think I started where I left off in China. I feel this time it didn't take too long to get up to speed and we got some productive running, particularly in the early part of the session, which is when the track was slightly quicker. I got a better impression of the circuit and we ran through the schedule as planned, which included some baseline work and tyre comparisons: it was a good morning session."
Dominic Harlow, chief race engineer: "This weekend will be about qualifying position and the way the weather turns out to be on Sunday. Today's programmes with Paul, Tonio and Adrian were trouble-free, and apart from relatively low grip levels we have had no significant problems. We tested some developments for future events together with the updates we have brought here, and once we've completed our usual analysis will carry this forward to tomorrow."
Adrian Sutil (car 14, VJM03/03):
FP1: Did not participate
FP2: 10th 1:21.518 (32 laps)
Tonio Liuzzi (car 15, VJM03/04):
FP1: 15th 1:23.284 (19 laps)
FP2: 12th 1:21.904 (32 laps)
Paul di Resta (car 15, VJM03/03):
FP1: 13th 1:23.030 (21 laps)
FP2: Did not participate