For the first time in its history, the streets of the Spanish city of Valencia reverberated with the sound of Formula One cars as the European Grand Prix kicked off with two opening free practice sessions.
It was a strong day for the Force India Formula One Team, with Adrian Sutil and Giancarlo Fisichella completing a combined total of 103 laps to gather vital information on the new 5.440km road course, which loops through the marina and harbour area of the city. The duo worked through a standard Friday programme, with tyre evaluation, set-up work and further running with the new seamless shift gearbox all on the menu. Both were closely matched over the day, with Adrian a strong 13th fastest in the opening session, just 1.5secs from the fastest time of the morning, and Giancarlo a competitive 10th quickest in the second 90 minute practice, only one second from the top.
Adrian Sutil: 'It was an interesting day for us to run on a new track. The circuit is very challenging, but feels more like a permanent race track than a street circuit as it has lots of run off areas and long straights and very smooth asphalt. It was however difficult in the morning with lots of dust and very hard to get a good lap out of it. In the afternoon it was better, but it was still quite dusty and once you got a little bit off line you got no grip at all. Everything was really as normal, with a standard programme with the tyres. We have some issues with graining as usual, but overall I am quite pleased with the day. The seamless shift is a very good step and I was happy with the progress.'
Giancarlo Fisichella: 'Today we ran through our normal programme, even though it was a new circuit. It's a pretty good track, nice to drive, although it was very dirty and slippery in the morning. We had a very good second session with some quick times and made some strong progress on the set-up. The seamless box is working well and we can push quite hard, but let's see what happens for tomorrow and qualifying.'
Mike Gascoyne, chief technical officer: 'Generally an interesting day for us as it is always challenging to run at a new circuit, and particularly one that stretches the drivers. We had no real mechanical problems today, only a small brake issue with Giancarlo, which was very quickly solved. All in all we ran through our normal programme and tyre evaluation and, although it's hard to tell from Friday form, I think we look more competitive and have made a slight step forward that we'll look to carry over to the rest of the weekend.'