Strong start by Force India at Australian GP

March 14th, 2008 - 6:52 pm ICT by admin  

(Lead)

Melbourne, March 14 (IANS): Force India made a strong start to the 2008 Formula One season with Giancarlo Fisichella clocking the ninth fastest time in the second free practice session, improving upon his 12th position in the first outing, at the Melbourne Park circuit here Friday. Fisichella clocked one minute, 28.469 seconds in the afternoon session that placed him ninth overall on the leaderboard that McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton headed with a 1:26.669.

In the morning session, Fisichella put in a lap of 1:29.230 as against team-mate Adrian Sutil’s 1:30.155 that placed the young German at 17th position.

Sutil, however, improved his timing to 1:29.461 in the afternoon, but so did the other drivers as more rubber on the track afforded better grip. Sutil thus finished the session again in the 17th spot.

Summing up the practice sessions, Fisichella said: “It was a good challenge today and it looks quite promising. We made a big step forward over the winter and, with the new development parts we have here, we are not looking too bad. I am happy with the job we are doing so far, both the team and myself are working well together, and although we know we still have a lot of work to do and it is going to be tough, it’s a good start.”

Sutil said he was not too pleased with his first run as he found the track slippery and also encountered hydraulic problems towards close of the morning session.

“I think today went quite well. The track was slippery at the beginning, so it was difficult to find a good balance to start with, but after the first run, I was happy and then we didn’t change so much over the sessions - really just fine-tuned everything,” Sutil said.

“We had a small hydraulic problem before lunch but it was soon solved and we could do several longer runs in the second free practice with some quite good lap times. At the end, it was a little bit unlucky; I had some traffic on my fastest lap, so I couldn’t do a good time with the new tyres, but tomorrow is another day and I think we should be much better than last year,” he added.

The local crowd had plenty to cheer about. Mark Webber (Red Bull) emerged second quickest in the afternoon as he clocked 1:27.473 and finished ahead of Ferrari’s Felipe Massa (1:27.640).

Meanwhile, world champion Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari), who was the quickest in the morning session, finished sixth at 1:28.208.

The timings, however, meant little as the teams carried different fuel loads while concentrating on tweaking the car set-up.

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