The Force India F1 Team's pre-season testing programme got underway today at the Valencia permanent circuit, with Nico Hülkenberg and Paul di Resta undertaking their first official driving duties for the team since their confirmation in the driver line-up last Wednesday.
The team used the VJM03 - last year's challenger - to gather further tyre data while valuable development work is continued on the VJM04 in the wind tunnel back at Silverstone.
Nico was first out in the car, completing 71 laps in total with a best time of 1:13.938, the second quickest time of the day, as he got up to speed with the car and the different protocols and procedures employed by the team.
Paul di Resta took over late afternoon to complete his baseline runs in advance of his first full day of testing tomorrow. The Scot posted the fourth best time of the day after 28 laps.
Paul will continue the test tomorrow with Adrian Sutil taking over for the final day.
Nico Hülkenberg: "Generally a very productive and promising first day with the team. The main goal was principally for me to get used to the team, the car and the new Pirelli tyres and my impressions of all were pretty positive. It was great to be back in an F1 car and I got back up to speed quicker than I thought. Programme-wise I worked through the different set-ups on the car and was able to complete a lot of laps, which gave me a good first understanding of how the Pirelli tyres worked as I was not able to do any running at the tyre test last year. I really enjoyed the day and am looking forward to working with the team over the coming weeks as we prepare for the start of the season."
Paul di Resta: "A short outing for me today, but good to get back in the car and out on track again after a couple of months off. And great to be back in the team environment knowing that this is all building up to the start of my first season in F1. We completed just under 30 laps to get ready for the full day tomorrow. I think we're in good shape to get through the full programme and get the information we need to feed into the development of the new car."
Dominic Harlow, circuit engineering director: "Our strategy for this test was to use the VJM3 to gain our drivers some early season mileage and collect as much data on the Pirelli tyres as possible. Overall we achieved our objectives today, looking at the three compounds available here and with both Nico and Paul driving the car. Fortunately the weather for the coming two days is forecast to remain fairly good and we look forward to continuing with our work over the remaining two days."