Paul di Resta's Italian Grand Prix
will start from five places further back than he qualifies after he Sahara Force India
team confirmed that he would need to change the gearbox in his VJM05.
The problem was not made apparent after the Scot and team-mate Nico Hulkenberg
completed the two 90-minute free practice sessions on Friday, but even before the cars had rolled out of the Monza pit-lane for Saturday morning's session, news broke that di Resta's #11 machine was ailing and would require a new 'box for the rest of the meeting.
"There were no issues with the cars," chief engineer Jakob Andreasen reported after the opening day's action, "It was a productive day of practice, which has given us all the data we need heading into the weekend. There are still some balance improvements to be made, but the set-up programme ran smoothly.
"In the afternoon, our focus moved towards longer runs to give us the tyre data and to help determine our approach for the rest of the weekend. We will go through the data tonight and then focus on qualifying performance tomorrow morning.”
di Resta started the weekend keen to make up for the frustration of last Sunday's Belgian Grand Prix, when KERS failure meant that he was unable to capitalise on a first corner accident that accounted for several frontrunners.
“A pretty standard afternoon session for me and I seemed to get in the groove quite quickly," the former DTM champion said of his sole Friday outing, having handed his car to reserve driver Jules Bianchi
for the morning, "The preparation we had done in the simulator was useful and the baseline set-up was not very far away from where we needed to be. We improved the car with each run so there's plenty of data to go through tonight to improve our performance before qualifying.”
di Resta finished eighth overall on the combined timesheets, one place ahead of Hulkenberg, as Force India
underlined the potential being shown by other Mercedes-powered teams around the royal park.
“It was nice to have a dry and straightforward Friday for a change so that we could get through our programme and complete some long runs," Hulkenberg noted, referring to the previous four rounds, all of which had seen Friday practice blighted by rain, "Overall, we look in reasonable shape, although I'm not totally happy with the set-up yet. We learned a lot about the tyres and both the hard and medium are working well here. The other big decision to make tonight is what downforce levels we will use over the weekend.”