Sahara Force India started its pre-season test programme today as the VJM09 made its track debut in the hands of Alfonso Celis, the team’s development driver. The young Mexican completed 58 laps on his way to setting the fifth fastest time of the day. Sergio Perez will take over the cockpit of the VJM09 tomorrow.
Laps: 58 laps
Mileage: 270 km
Best lap: 1:26.298 (P5)
Alfonso Celis: “I’m feeling very happy with how things went today. The start of the day was special when we launched the VJM09 and it was a big honour to be the first to drive the car. It was only my second day in a Formula One car, but I was able to enjoy the experience more than last time because I knew what to expect and I had a bit more confidence. The car was perfect today and I want to say a big ‘well done’ to everybody in the team for all their work over the winter to deliver this car. We managed to work through the whole plan with good reliability. I could not think of a better way to start the season and I’m really looking forward to getting back in the car on Thursday.”
Tom McCullough, Chief Race Engineer
“We took a cautious approach to the start of the day due to the overnight rain with the track taking quite a while to dry out. When we did get out in the middle of the morning, Alfonso worked through a lot of the systems checks needed for a new car before we moved to an aero correlation programme with various test instrumentation fitted to the VJM09. The aero work took up most of the day and it required Alfonso to make frequent adjustments on the steering wheel to help with the data gathering. As first days with a new car go, today has been remarkably smooth and Alfonso has done an excellent job. His approach was very mature and he steadily built up his speed during the day. We look forward to working with him again on Thursday.”