The factory of the Sahara Force India team is just a stone’s throw away from the Silverstone track that plays host to this weekend’s British Grand Prix. The team however had a testing day at the circuit, with Sergio Perez, Nico Hulkenberg and reserve driver Daniel Juncadella all getting some running during the day.
Perez was the quickest of the Force India drivers all day, finishing eleventh in FP1 and sixteenth in FP2, but felt both practice sessions were a challenge for him and the team, and admitted he struggled with the balance of this car. He is hopeful for much-improved Saturday running.
“It was quite a challenging day for us and we are a bit shy of where we would have wanted to be,” said Perez. “We struggled with balance in both sessions and this meant we couldn’t extract all the pace from the car. We knew this was going to be a hard track for us due to its layout and tonight we will need to review the set-up to find the extra couple of tenths that can get us back in the group where we belong. We have a pretty clear idea of what we need to do overnight and if we can achieve that, we should be looking much better tomorrow.”
Team-mate Hulkenberg sat out FP1, but struggled to seventeenth fastest in FP2, with the wind making it difficult for the German. He knows that he will need to improve the car if he is to continue his amazing unbroken run of points scoring races in 2014.
“Just the one session for me today and it was very windy out on track,” said Hulkenberg. “That made things more difficult, although we know it’s a common situation here at Silverstone. It was quite a normal session for me, but we need to analyse the situation better tonight to make the right conclusions for tomorrow. It’s the usual challenge of understanding the tyres and improving the balance to put ourselves in a better position.”
Hulkenberg’s FP1 place was taken by reserve and test driver Juncadella, who made his free practice debut for the team on Friday, running 23 laps and finishing fourteenth fastest. The Spaniard was grateful for the opportunity the team gave him at Silverstone, and felt the session went smoothly.
“It was good fun today and a great opportunity to drive my first free practice session on our home track,” said Juncadella. “It’s a track I know well and everything went smoothly with no problems. The main challenge was getting the tyres working, especially because of the harder compounds being used here. The priority today was to give the team some data and feedback to help prepare the car for Nico this afternoon.”
Team Principal and Managing Director of Sahara Force India Dr Vijay Mallya was happy about the preparations the team have made ahead of FP3 and qualifying, and feels there is a bit more pace to come from both race drivers. He also praised the efforts of Juncadella after his maiden free practice session in F1.
“The preparations for our local race saw a busy programme today with our reserve driver Daniel enjoying his first experience of driving in an official practice session,” said Mallya. “He acquitted himself very well and collected the data we needed. The windy conditions made it hard to carry out consistent testing today, making the car unstable, but in general we seem to be more comfortable with our high fuel runs compared with the low fuel balance.
“We still have some ideas to explore tonight and hopefully that will bring us more in line with the teams that were ahead of us on the timesheets today. The good news is that all our homework is done in terms of data collection so I think we are in reasonable shape heading into the weekend.”