The Sahara Force India Formula One Team had an extremely strong start to their United States Grand Prix weekend at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas on Friday.

In the opening session this morning, Nico Hulkenberg finished the session in fifth place while in the second session the German finished the session in sixth place and completed 59 laps over the course of the day.

Speaking following the session, Hulkenberg commented by saying:

It was a straightforward Friday – the way you want to start a weekend, really. We didn’t have any major issues with the car and we were able to do a good amount of mileage. We tried a few different things with our set-up this afternoon, so the job tonight is to try and understand the best direction to take going forward. I am reasonably happy with the balance of the car, but I know we can make some improvements tonight. So we’re in a good place to start and I am optimistic for tomorrow and Sunday.

Force India development driver Alfonso Celis drove in place of Sergio Perez this morning and ended the session in 17th place and speaking following his time in the car he commented by saying:

I’m pleased about the improvement I could see throughout the morning, especially in the slow and medium-speed corners, and in the braking zones. I only had two sets of supersoft tyres available, so I had to be smart with how I used them. You never get everything out of a lap on the first attempt and by the end of the run your tyres are no longer at their best, but taking this into account, I am pleased with what I achieved. Most importantly, I went out to collect data for the team and we got all we needed, which is what I am meant to do. On a personal level, it was great to see many Mexican fans out in the stands. I won’t be in Mexico City next week, but I was really happy to see support from my home country – it was very motivating.

Sergio Perez completed 31 laps and ended the afternoon in seventh place and speaking following the session he commented by saying:

I was only in the car this afternoon, but I got up to speed very quickly and I am quite happy with my laps – I think we’re in a promising position. The car feels okay and I think we found the set-up window quite early. Nico tried a different approach to me and it should have helped the team get all the information we need to make a good decision for tomorrow.

Force India head into the weekend’s action in fourth place in the championship and speaking following following the day of action, Force India deputy team principal Robert Fernley commented by saying:

We are pleased with how things went today. This morning Alfonso picked up where he left off in Monza and did a good job on this difficult and technical circuit. All the drivers were happy with the baseline balance, but the conditions were very windy, which added an extra challenge for setting up the cars. The main focus was on high fuel running and understanding the three tyre compounds, which performed as we expected with no real surprises. Because it was so wet last year, we have very little reference data in the dry, especially at these warm temperatures, so there was even more learning to be done. Overall, we’ve made a solid start and I believe we are in good shape heading into the weekend.

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