Force India's Adrian Sutil was encouraged by the performance of the Mercedes-powered VJM03 in practice today in Bahrain and has reiterated that the Silverstone-based outfit definitely has the potential to be a top ten runner.
Sutil put in a great performance to secure the fastest time in the opening 90-minute practice session, finishing proceedings 0.183 seconds up on the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso.
The German then switched to focusing on longer runs in the afternoon and while he was only twelfth in FP2, he still ended the day eighth in the combined times, thanks to his time in the first session.
“This morning we were checking all the systems and set-up we learnt over testing but nobody really knew where we were going to be,” Sutil reflected. “It's our goal to get two cars through to Q3 for this weekend and I think we now have a very good baseline with the car and good downforce compared to last year.
“We can be a top ten runner with this car this year and myself and Tonio are working well together. If we can qualify in the top ten now it can lead to decent points, which is, at the end of the day, what we want to do consistently this season. I would say it's a promising start to get there, for sure.”
Vitantonio Liuzzi meanwhile also ran well and he ended FP1 in seventh on a 1m 57.194s. Like Sutil, he slipped down the leaderboard in the afternoon, and he eventually finished proceedings 12th on the combined times.
“Overall it was a positive day and we got through all the programme. We learnt quite a lot about the car with these kind of hot conditions, which we weren't able to do in the cool of the winter testing,” the Italian added.
“The car is reacting well to different fuel loads and to different tyres and overall we can be pretty happy with the results at the end of this first Friday. I think we are in a good way for tomorrow.
“For sure we could improve our single lap time, but the race pace looks good. A positive start to the weekend.”