Force India drivers not happy with initial pace

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Abu Dhabi, Yas Marina Circuitae

At Sahara Force India, all three drivers were in action as Jules Bianchi completed FP1 instead of Paul Di Resta. As is usual on a Friday, the team is analysing data to see how the car can be improved ahead of Saturday, but Nico Hulkenberg already dropped a hint a vast improvement is needed to fight for points on Sunday.

Nico Hulkenberg, VJM05/03:
FP1: P12, 1:45.587, 20 laps
FP2: P13, 1:43.255, 34 laps
“I think it’s still difficult to know where our performance level is right now, but we probably need to raise our game and improve a bit overnight if we want to challenge for points. The balance is not perfect just yet so we need to work tonight to get the car closer to the sweet spot. Apart from that we got through the programme, collected all the tyre data and so it was a fairly normal Friday.”

Paul Di Resta, VJM05/04:
FP1: Did not take part
FP2: P15, 1:43.578, 34 laps
“I think we learned quite a lot this evening, but there’s a lot of work ahead of us to understand where we stand and where we can improve. This track is all about grip in the low and medium speed corners and that’s where we need to focus tonight. In terms of tyres we collected a lot of data today so we will be working hard to make sure we get them in the right operating window for qualifying and the race.”

Jules Bianchi, VJM05/04:
FP1: P15, 1:45.769, 22 laps
FP2: Did not take part
“It think this was probably my best free practice session so far. I’ve done lots of testing here before so I know the track really well and felt very comfortable. The programme was quite simple with three runs, lots of laps and we improved the car with each run. The track improved a lot during the session, but the tyres went off quite quickly so it was difficult to improve my times at the end of the session.”

Robert Fernley, Deputy Team Principal:
“A pretty solid day of practice with all three drivers working together well and getting through the programme. Jules was in the car for FP1 and he did exactly what we needed and delivered consistent lap times. As usual we had some test items to evaluate, which we did with Nico, before focussing on tyres and longer runs in the afternoon. It was an important session for Paul, who has not felt totally comfortable with the car in the last few races. We’ve tried our best to address his concerns so hopefully those issues are behind us with the chassis change.”