Formula One debutant Paul di Resta has made his first outing in the 2011 Force India race car this week after testing alongside team-mate Adrian Sutil in Jerez.
According to the team his job was to carry out tyre evaluations and establish baseline set-ups for the remainder of the testing programme – but he must also have relished his first opportunity to try out the car he will drive in his first competitive season in racing’s top flight.
Di Resta, 24, completed 64 laps on his first day in the cockpit, with a top time of 1:22.945, saying of the experience: “Today was really about me getting used to the new car, plus getting as much information about the new tyres and set-up options as possible.
“We’ve still got a bit of work to do, but today was about determining the right way to go. We did find that there were a couple of issues with getting temperature in the brakes on some set-ups, and on the final run of the day I locked up into turn nine and went off into the gravel. Overall I think we can be fairly positive with the progress we’ve made.”
On his second day – the last of the four-day test – the team made preliminary checks on the new drag reduction system, or moveable rear wing, before its full introduction at the next test session in Barcelona this week.
He put in a further 99 laps, with a fastest time of 1:23.111, to bring the car’s total mileage so far to more than 1,100km. The day’s running did, however, end earlier than expected when with a front left suspension failure on the planned penultimate run of the day.
He said of the session: “Another productive day with a lot more miles on the car. At the moment that’s what it’s all about – giving ourselves a clear direction and getting as much data as we can on the performance of the new car on different fuel loads.
“We’re not going for times, rather fine-tuning the balance and set-up, plus getting to grips with a few development items we will use at the next test, including the DRS [drag reduction system].
“Towards the end of the day we found a good path for the next test and have something positive to build on next week. Unfortunately we couldn’t do our final run of the day when something broke on the front of the car and I skidded into the gravel. It was a shame and the team will look at it now, but until that point we were improving with each run.
The team will be back in action from February 18-21 at the Circuit de Catalunya near Barcelona. Di Resta will return to the car for the first two days, with Sutil taking over on days three and four.