Sergio Pérez has said he already has good expectations for the first race of the season in Australia after a “positive week” of pre-season testing with Force India.
“I think we made a good step forward with understanding the VJM10 and finding the limit of the tyres,” the Mexican said at the end of the week. “I feel more confident in the car; I have learnt a huge amount and I think my preparation is going to plan.
“There is still a lot of work to be done, but I’m optimistic for Melbourne already.”
Pérez described his first day driving the VJM10 as one “of two halves”: after making steady progress through the team’s tyre and setup programme in the morning, he was forced by a broken exhaust to sit the afternoon session out.
But on his return to the track on Thursday, Pérez enjoyed a trouble-free day and was able to log 82 laps of the Barcelona track, as well as set the sixth-fastest time of the day.
On the middle two days of the test, Pérez handed over the VJM10 to his new teammate Esteban Ocon and Force India’s development driver Alfonso Celis Jr.
Ocon, driving on day two, made a good start to his first season with Force India, exceeding the team’s lap target with 86 tours and completing the setup work leftover from day one.
“It’s very early days, of course, but the initial feelings are positive,” Ocon said of his day’s testing. “We found a good direction for setting up the car…and I’m satisfied with the number of laps we covered.”
The Frenchman also said that the new generation of F1 cars are “proper beasts”, remarking on their increased cornering speeds as “a good step forward” for the sport.
Chief race engineer Tom McCullough said that the team’s “incredible efforts” over the week have left Force India confident about the season ahead, especially after Celis Jr. added another 71 laps to the team’s tally on his day behind the wheel:
“I’m pleased we managed to exceed our target lap count and accrued so much data because the learning curve is so steep in these early days. We have been able to build up good mileage and iron out some of the inevitable teething problems that you get with a new car.
“We are confident we have made some important steps forward…and we are looking forward to next week’s test, when we will focus more on performance and race simulations.”
James Matthews, Editor-at-Large
Images courtesy of Sahara Force India Formula One Team