March 22nd, 2013 (F1Plus / Chris Cameron-Dow) - Force India have shown early in the Malaysian Grand Prix weekend that the pace they demonstrated at last week's Australian Grand Prix was no fluke. The VJM06 is a genuinely quick car which is, at this stage of the season, likely to spend most of its time in the points.
Sutil and Di Resta set virtually identical lap times in FP1, separated by just four thousandths of a second. Sutil set the sixth fastest time and Di Resta was eighth, with Felipe Massa squeezed into the tiny gap between them. The order at Force India was the other way round in FP2, with Di Resta again 8th, but this time two tenths quicker than Sutil who finished tenth. Sutil lost out on some time in FP2 when a technical issue cut his session short, but the track time he missed out on was mostly when the track was wet. As a result, he will not be handicapped if the race is dry, and if it is wet, he has data from Di Resta's wet runs to assist in formulating his approach to the race.
While Force India's pace looks good, the team has not managed to complete as many long runs as planned, partly due to the weather and partly due to Sutil's technical issues. The lack of long run data will be a priority for FP3 on Saturday morning, along with the usual qualifying preparation.
This what the team had to say after Friday practice:
Adrian Sutil: “The morning went OK and the balance was quite good. We made a change during the lunch hour to cure some oversteer and my general feeling with the car is good. I missed out on some running this afternoon, but I think the rain interrupted things for everybody so I didn’t miss too much dry track time. I still managed a run on the hard and the medium this afternoon so I’ve got a feel for both the tyre compounds.”
Paul Di Resta: “I think we’ve had a reasonable day. We’ve got some tyre data and first impressions suggest that our performance level is pretty similar to where it was in Melbourne last week. Hopefully we can continue the progress overnight. Generally I’m fairly happy but, as always, there’s some work to do tonight to make sure we’re comfortable on both the compounds going into the race.”
Jakob Andreasen, Chief Race Engineer: “A fairly typical day in Malaysia with dry running this morning and a light shower in the afternoon session. On the whole we got through the bulk of the programme and both Paul and Adrian seemed pretty content with the handling of their cars from the start of running. Adrian’s afternoon session was cut short as a precaution, but it did not cost him too much dry track time relative to the others. Paul clocked up 30 laps this afternoon, running both the hard and medium compounds, and is in good shape heading into tomorrow. We don’t have as much long run data as we would ideally like, but we have enough information to make some sensible predictions.”
|6||15||Adrian Sutil||Force India-Mercedes||1:37.769||0.834||17|
|8||14||Paul di Resta||Force India-Mercedes||1:37.773||0.838||15|
|8||14||Paul di Resta||Force India-Mercedes||1:37.571||1.002||30|
|10||15||Adrian Sutil||Force India-Mercedes||1:37.788||1.219||10|