Force India battled the hot and humid conditions in Malaysia today as a trio of drivers took part in the two Friday practice sessions.
Adrian Sutil and reserve driver Paul di Resta were in the cars for Free Practice 1, finishing 7th and 15th respectively. Tonio Liuzzi took over from di Resta in the afternoon session and finished 12th, behind Sutil who finished the day 10th fastest.
Sutil had an incident-free day, but thinks that weather conditions could make things challenging for the remainder of the weekend. “Today was very much following our normal Friday programme. I had to be a little bit patient as the track was dusty at the beginning of the morning so it was just driving and learning the circuit again. In the afternoon we then went to do a little set-up work.
“It was difficult with the hot track temperatures we experience here as the tyres overheated very quickly and it was challenging to get it under control. We have a few things to look at set-up wise but we should be fine for tomorrow. We are in the top 10 still, just behind the top four teams. I think it will be an interesting day, probably with some rain thrown in as well!”
Despite missing the morning session, Tonio Liuzzi sounded positive at the end of the day. “Today was a good opening day of practice for the team. I missed the morning session but we did the most important job of understanding the tyres and following our programme targets.
“We are quite happy, and although the car suffered a little understeer in the high speed corners, it is responding well and we understand the behaviour of the tyres over the longer runs. It looks like qualifying here will be interesting as the rain started at 4pm but we can deal with the conditions I am sure.”
After participating in his second practice session for Force India, Paul di Resta thinks he is quickly learning his way in Formula 1. “I’m feeling a lot more comfortable and I think that was why I was able to get up to speed relatively quickly. It ran more smoothly today and even though I didn’t have any prior experience of the circuit I got into a relatively comfortable zone quite soon. The programme was exactly the same as if Tonio had been in the car, running through baselines and then understanding the tyres.
“Here the tyres don’t last very long with the heat and we missed the peak with them and didn’t quite set the optimum time, but I think ultimately you can’t pay too much attention to that as it’s not always going to be relative to what we are doing and where we are. It’s just getting myself in the environment, getting the track time and learning the circuits.”
Chief Race Engineer Dominic Harlow says that conditions will be the big challenge for Force India on Saturday and Sunday. “We didn’t encounter any major problems today as we established the relative performance and degradation characteristics of the two tyres available for this race. The high track and air temperatures are, as usual here, dominating the behaviour of the car.
“Today’s sessions have been at the normal times of day, but as we head into the weekend they become later again, and that will be a factor in the decisions we make overnight. We’ve more work to do, but are looking forward to the challenges of the weekend ahead”