James Calado was delighted with his first official Formula One practice run after taking his Force India to seventeenth place on Friday morning. The Briton, who would later qualify seventh for the GP2 feature race, thanked Force India for giving him the chance to sample Monza in a Grand Prix car and hopes it won’t be the last time.
“Amazing – that’s the only word I can use to describe the day. It took a while to get used to the car again, but once I was familiar with everything I was able to drive consistently and set some reasonable lap times. The balance felt good and everything ran smoothly during the session. I learned a lot and hopefully got some good data for the team. I want to say a big ‘thank you’ to Sahara Force India for the opportunity and I’m already looking forward to getting back in the car later in the year.”
Paul Di Resta was the quicker of the race drivers on Friday and is hopeful that the team can challenge McLaren for a top ten spot in qualifying.
“The car seems to be relatively well balanced, but we’ve not been able to break into the top ten yet. So we need to work away tonight to try and improve things a bit more. Making Q3 tomorrow is the big target, which is definitely achievable. The field looks quite spread out here, certainly compared to some other races, but we seem to be close to McLaren. The tyres are performing in line with our predictions and we’ve got plenty of data to go through tonight.”
Teammate Adrian Sutil was thirteenth and has pinpointed the car’s performance under braking as the big issue to solve overnight.
“Monza is an unusual track so it’s been quite a challenge to get on top of the car today. There’s certainly a lot to look at tonight because we need to improve the car under braking and make it easier to drive as I’m lacking overall grip at the moment. For the tyres we have the data we need and the long run performance looked okay.”