Force India described Friday practice as a ‘solid start’ to their weekend, with Adrian Sutil and Tonio Liuzzi finishing the second 90-minute session ninth and fifteenth fastest, respectively.
Paul di Resta, the team’s test and reserve driver, was in Liuzzi’s car for the morning session, and completed 22 laps of the new-look Silverstone circuit. The Scot finished the session fourteenth, just a tenth off the time set by Fernando Alonso.
“This morning was quite productive, getting up to speed with another new track,” said di Resta, after his first ever laps of Silverstone in an F1 car. “There are a few bumps in there and the grip is quite low for now, but by the time we go racing it should have rubbered in and provide a new overtaking opportunity.
“I went through my usual programme, building up slowly through the session but unfortunately on my last run I had a problem with the radio not working and I got caught in some major traffic and could and should have improved the time.
“Overall I’m pleased with the session and it’s a great thrill to be out here in front of my home crowd at a circuit I’ve watched so many races at in the past.”
Sutil was also pleased with the morning session as he got to grips with the new arena section. “This morning was quite OK – out on the partly new circuit, which I have to say was quite nice to drive,” said the German. “The new section was reasonably difficult to learn with quite low grip and hard to find a good line through the esses in particular.
“The car behaved well in the morning and it was easy to set a good time, but we had a couple of problems in the afternoon to find a decent set-up or balance,” Sutil added. “I had a bit too much oversteer and at one stage it was very hard to drive but it improved on the new tyres and the long run was good.
“I think we now need to do a little bit of work to perfect the set-up changes from last year but there’s still some time before qualifying to get all the little things sorted.”
Liuzzi also sounded positive after driving around the new British GP layout for the first time but, like Sutil, thinks that improvements are needed before qualifying tomorrow. “I think we are quite competitive on this new track,” he said. “We need to understand a few issues on top speed compared to the other car but through the high speed corners it seems pretty stable and we are in a good position balance and set-up wise.
“It was a little difficult sitting out the first session, particularly at a circuit like this when things are new and not particularly easy.
“There are a couple of corners we need to figure out in the new section but overall I think we can quite happy about the performance today but I really hope we can find a bit more top speed with my car.”
In his summary of the day, chief race engineer Dominic Harlow said that the team will be working hard this evening to get the best out of the two VJM03 cars for tomorrow. “[It was] a solid start to our home grand prix weekend with just one or two issues,” said Harlow. “During the morning session the circuit took a while to improve, but Paul and Adrian gained familiarity with the new layout and we were pleased that our simulations prior to this weekend correlated well with what we found at the circuit. In FP2 Tonio and Adrian continued to look at the tyres and evaluate some setup options.
“The circuit was quite hot today, and the afternoon was more breezy than the morning, it’s close as usual, but I’m sure we can improve the car further overnight and for qualifying.”