Nico Hulkenberg, pole-sitter in Brazil twelve months ago, was back in the car at Interlagos today for Free Practice 1, and set a faster time than Paul di Resta.
As Force India continue to deliberate over which two drivers they will select for next season, Hulkenberg did his chances of selection no harm at all with his performance in the 90-minute practice session.
“Quite a good session for me,” was the German’s summary. “I managed to do lots of runs and tested quite few different set-ups on the car: things like aero settings and adjusting the KERS maps. I was also lucky to have the hard compound development tyre available so I learned about that and the usual medium compound.
“It felt good to be back in the car because I have not driven since free practice in Suzuka. I got back into the groove pretty quickly and enjoyed the session. It's a short lap, but I like the undulating layout, which includes some great corners.”
Adrian Sutil is the driver who looks likely to be pushed out of the team at the end of the season. He sat out the morning session whilst Hulkenberg was in the car, and then set the ninth fastest time in the afternoon.
“It was quite a good afternoon session,” he said. “I concentrated on evaluating the different tyre compounds and getting a good balance with the car. I was quite happy on the soft tyre: there was a lot of grip and the car felt good. I also think we looked competitive over the long runs. In terms of the balance we are not too far away from where we need to be so I'm quite optimistic for tomorrow.”
Paul di Resta, the final piece in the Force India driver puzzle, finished the day tenth fastest. “I got my first proper feel for Interlagos today and I have to say I really like the track,” said the Scot. “It's a very short lap, but there's a nice rhythm to the place and it's quite technical, too.
“As for the programme today, we had a lot of work to get through, but it was quite straightforward and we've collected lots of data. In fact, it's probably one of the best Fridays we've had in terms of collecting data – although it remains to be seen how useful that information will be if the weather changes over the weekend.”