The Force India F1 Team's young driver test got underway today at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi. The team remained on site after Sunday's race to participate in the two day test, reserved exclusively for drivers who have limited F1 racing experience.
Paul di Resta took to the circuit for the opening 90 minutes to test development items ahead of the tyre test later this week before handing the VJM03 over to Antonio Felix da Costa for the remainder of the day.
Antonio became the youngest-ever Portuguese driver to run a Formula 1 car when he took to the track and performed well throughout the session, running on a variety of settings, fuel loads and aero configurations. He completed 77 laps with a best time of 1:41.381, the third quickest of the day.
Paul will again be running in the first part of the day tomorrow, with Dutchman Yelmer Buurman taking over driving duties mid morning.
Paul di Resta: "It was good to be back in the car this morning for the first time since the Italian Grand Prix, even though it was a very short session - just over an hour and a half. We had a few development items we needed to run to carry over to the tyre test later this week and I had to learn the circuit layout since I'd never driven the Yas Marina track other than on the simulator. It's very technical with tight corners that you need to get right, and I'm looking forward to getting out again tomorrow to carry on the programme in the morning."
Antonio Felix da Costa: "It was a good day, quite surprising, even for me. I adapted to the car a bit faster than I expected and that was very positive as I could do some real work to get up to speed more quickly and get to grips with the set up of the car. I think my lap time was good, only four tenths from the qualifying times of the Force India this weekend, so I am pretty pleased. It was just such an amazing experience today and I wish everyone could try it as it's so impressive, such fun. I have to thank the whole crew at Force India who worked so hard today, to my management and sponsors and I hope to have some more F1 experience again quite soon."
Dominic Harlow, chief race engineer: "A good first day of testing for the team. We started with Paul to make a short baseline and carry out some component testing and data collection. Antonio took over the car shortly before lunch, familiarised himself quickly and ran through several tyre and long run evaluations as part of what is now our standard Young Driver Programme. Overall we covered our objectives, everyone in the team did a great job, and we and look forward to tomorrow's second Young Driver day."