Formula 1

Paul di Resta makes free practice debut for Force India

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Paul di Resta participated in an F1 practice session for the first time this morning, taking Adrian Sutil’s Force India out on track in Albert Park.

The young Scot finished 11th fastest just behind his more experienced teammate Tonio Liuzzi in the first session. Adrian Sutil returned to the car for the afternoon session, setting the seventh fastest time, one position ahead of Liuzzi.

Despite rain affecting the running in FP2, Force India say that they gathered all the information they needed for tomorrow’s running.

The Force India reserve driver explained how it felt to take part in the morning session in Melbourne. “I was pretty nervous going into the session, after all Albert Park is one of the most difficult tracks on the calendar. It’s half street, half track so I had to build the programme from the bottom to the top. I had to feel comfortable in the car, particularly as I’ve not had the chance to drive it in the dry after the wet testing we had over the winter. It was something new and once the track rubbered in I was able to push myself beyond my comfortable limits.

“In Melbourne there’s not much margin for error and therefore I had to be careful in some sectors as the walls get pretty close here. But the main job is to get the mileage and learn the track but most importantly to try and build a base for the drivers in the race with the optimum set-up. It’s a good starting block for both me and I hope the team this weekend.”

Tonio Liuzzi thinks that he is well prepared going into FP3 and qualifying tomorrow, but had some less than complementary things to say about his rivals with whom he was sharing the track in morning practice. “Today was OK and the car was responding pretty well to the changes we made over the sessions. I was quite happy with the balance. The conditions were not ideal as in the first session there were the two red flags in quite quick succession and then the weather didn’t help in the second practice.

“Unfortunately then there was always traffic as there were people slowing down and backing off to try and get some space so I didn’t get a free lap. It was like people were on a Sunday drive in some places. Overall though a good day to start the weekend on and I think we are looking good for tomorrow.”

Adrian Sutil is also feeling positive about the team’s prospects for the weekend, despite him missing out on a lot of running time today. “The rain in the second session was not ideal, particularly as I had sat out the first session, but we did what we could and I think overall the findings were very positive. At the start of the session we did some running with the harder tyre compound and then with the softer. We also tried out the intermediate tyre when the circuit was wetter. Everything seems to be working OK and we could get all the information we wanted today. I still have a good feeling about this weekend and I would like to better the result we had in Bahrain.”

Dominic Harlow, chief race engineer, echoed his drivers sentiments and is feeling confident ahead of qualifying and the race. “We had to think on our feet a bit today with both sessions being interrupted. Red flags in FP1 and the rain showers in FP2 both punctuated the running, and there is a lot of traffic to contend with . All three drivers were happy with the balance of the car, and we completed our usual Friday homework.

“As usual the circuit is quite slippery at the start of the weekend, but we’d expect as it rubbers in the grip to come up. We’re confident that we can make some further improvements to the car overnight, and look forward to a competitive weekend.”

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David is an occasional contributer to the site on matters related to Formula 1. You can follow him on twitter at @Dr_Bean.
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