The Force India F1 Team's home Grand Prix at Silverstone Circuit - just metres from its HQ - got underway today with the first day of practice.
Adrian Sutil and Paul di Resta were on driving duties in the morning's opening session, which took place under unseasonably sunny
skies. Adrian quickly got to grips with the modified 5.901km circuit, setting the fifth quickest time of the 90 minute practice as he established a baseline set-up for the weekend. Paul, completing his first laps in an F1 car round Silverstone, completed 22 laps to familiarise himself with the challenges of the high-speed track, setting an impressive 14th quickest time, just one tenth from Fernando Alonso
Tonio Liuzzi resumed his regular seat alongside Adrian for the afternoon's practice to put in more running of the switchable rear wing, tyre comparisons and further set-up work. Adrian posted the ninth quickest time, with Tonio the 15th.
This morning was quite OK - out on the partly new circuit, which I have to say was quite nice to drive. 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. 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.
I think we are quite competitive on this new track. 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.
Paul di Resta:
This morning was quite productive, getting up to speed with another new track. 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.
Dominic Harlow, chief race engineer:
A solid start to our home grand prix weekend with just one or two issues. 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.