Giancarlo Fisichella declared himself 'surprised and happy' with his first run in Force India's 2009 Formula One challenger on its debut at Jerez, although the Italian also admitted to being frustrated at only managing 31 laps on his first day with the Mercedes-powered machine.
After a brief run in private at Silverstone last week, where Adrian Sutil was at the wheel, the team headed to Spain to conduct the first true test of its new car with a four-day programme planned for the coming week.
With the car hitting the track later than its rivals, the main aim of the first day of running was to complete various system checks and collect as much data as possible as preparations continue for the season-opening Australian Grand Prix, although Fisichella lost vital track time with a fuel system issue following his initial runs in the car.
However, while frustrated at running fewer laps than anyone else on track, Fisichella declared himself happy with how the car had performed and said he was looking forwards to spending more time at the wheel on Monday.
“It is a bit frustrating as we could only do 31 laps today, especially as it is very important to try and get as many as possible as we are already late compared to the other teams,” he said. “I'm am however quite surprised and happy about what I felt with the behaviour of the car today. It's very promising and I felt much more consistency, even under braking, and more stability in the high speed corners. We need to improve the traction a bit and also the oversteering after a few laps, but this is a problem others have had as well.
“The lap time is good and I am quite pleased as we did it with one set of new tyres and I know I can do much better than this. We are not that far away from the other people so I am looking forward to tomorrow and another day with more laps where we can try to improve the car a little bit and concentrate on reliability.”
Force India's technical director James Key was also happy with the first day for the VJM02, and paid tribute to everyone involved in the programme for the getting the car ready for its debut test.
“Thanks to McLaren, Mercedes and all the guys back at the factory for all their hard work in getting the car ready for this test,” he said. “Given the timeframe we've had, to get laps in here is a major achievement. It was certainly good to be running today for the first time at a test following our shakedown last week.
“The rain didn't come today as much as expected so we got more time than we thought, although it was difficult to get a clear run with the numerous red flags. We also had one simple issue that halted our running, a fuel system problem. We don't feel it is fundamental, we just need to get to the bottom of fixing it. Other than this, the car ran very well and behaved as expected.
“We got a lot of good feedback from Giancarlo and his feel for what the car is doing within its parameters. We will do more running tomorrow, as we need to run through some more baseline set-up as we could only do one set up change here today.”
For a full testing report, CLICK HERE