The Force India Formula One Team opened its 2008 German Grand Prix campaign today with two free practice sessions at a cloudy Hockenheimring. As per usual Friday practice, the team worked through a structured programme of tyre comparisons, set-up work and aero developments, including running the new wheel spinners, that very much followed on from the test at the same circuit last week. The team had a productive day, with Adrian Sutil and Giancarlo Fisichella consistently setting times just over a second from the top five.
With unseasonal rain hitting the central German track overnight and early this morning, the opening 90 minute session started wet, allowing both drivers opportunity to evaluate wet weather set-ups and tyres. While the clouds remained, the rain eased off around 30 minutes from the end and drivers were able to switch to dry tyres. Adrian set a series of fastest laps, and ultimately finished the session in 18th position. Giancarlo also featured well in the session, recording the 15th quickest time, just over one second from the top five.
In the dry second practice both drivers focussed on longer runs. Adrian and Giancarlo were closely matched, although both of their quickest laps were hampered; Adrian's by a mechanical problem, and Giancarlo's by traffic.
Adrian Sutil: 'It was a fairly difficult day to be honest as the grip level was very low and we expected better track conditions. The set-up we had at the test last week was quite good, but today we weren't able to replicate it with the way the track was. Sometimes the car had oversteer and then understeer, so it made it very difficult to drive. Otherwise in the end we tried a lot of different things, so for sure we will improve over the weekend.'
Giancarlo Fisichella: 'Today was OK, although the grip was not as good as we had last week at the test and obviously there was some rain this morning that made it even worse. We still have to work on the balance for tomorrow as it was quite inconsistent and at times it was difficult to push, but there's still another practice session tomorrow. We weren't so far away from Q2 in Silverstone last time, so we can certainly try again here.'
Mike Gascoyne, chief technical officer: 'A productive day with both cars. There was certainly less grip than there was at the test, although the damp track at the start of the morning session at least allowed us to just find out the balance on rain tyres. Overall however it was a normal programme, with no real problems. The car looks consistent on long runs, but we just need to find more one-lap pace.'