Nico Hulkenberg and Paul di Resta were on testing duties for Force India on the first day of pre-season testing at the Ricardo Tormo circuit in Valencia, completing 99 laps between them.
Force India are using the VJM03 (the 2010 car) this week in order to gather further tyre data whilst development work continues on the VJM04 in the wind tunnel.
Hulkenberg was first out in the car, completing 71 laps with a best time of 1:13.938 – a time that only Sebastian Vettel in the new Red Bull could beat all day.
“Generally a very productive and promising first day with the team,” said the German, who was announced as Force India‘s test and reserve driver only last week. “The main goal was principally for me to get used to the team, the car and the new Pirelli tyres and my impressions of all were pretty positive. It was great to be back in an F1 car and I got back up to speed quicker than I thought.
“Programme-wise I worked through the different set-ups on the car and was able to complete a lot of laps, which gave me a good first understanding of how the Pirelli tyres worked as I was not able to do any running at the tyre test last year. I really enjoyed the day and am looking forward to working with the team over the coming weeks as we prepare for the start of the season.”
Di Resta took over late afternoon, completing a further 28 laps, and setting the fourth fastest time of the day. “A short outing for me today, but good to get back in the car and out on track again after a couple of months off,” commented the Scot. “And great to be back in the team environment knowing that this is all building up to the start of my first season in F1. We completed just under 30 laps to get ready for the full day tomorrow. I think we’re in good shape to get through the full programme and get the information we need to feed into the development of the new car.”
Dominic Harlow, the circuit engineering director, explained the team’s rationale behind using their old car for this test, and looked ahead to the rest of the week.
“Our strategy for this test was to use the VJM3 to gain our drivers some early season mileage and collect as much data on the Pirelli tyres as possible,” he said. “Overall we achieved our objectives today, looking at the three compounds available here and with both Nico and Paul driving the car. Fortunately the weather for the coming two days is forecast to remain fairly good and we look forward to continuing with our work over the remaining two days.”
Paul di Resta will be back in the car tomorrow, and then Adrian Sutil will take over testing duties for the final day on Thursday.