Mercedes young driver George Russell says he really enjoyed his time on track during Free Practice one for Sunday’s Brazilian Grand Prix.

The Englishman, driving for the Sahara Force India Formula One Team in Sergio Perez’s VJM-10 completed 29 laps recording the 12th place with a time of 01:11.047s and speaking following the session he commented by saying:

First and foremost I want to thank Force India because I really enjoyed today. It’s something I have been working towards for a long time and even though it feels normal right now, it’s a surreal feeling to know I have been driving in a race weekend. It’s a huge step up for me, but I have been prepared as well as I could be: I have done days in the simulator with both Mercedes and Force India and I feel that, after my days at the test in Budapest, this was the next step. I didn’t know the car or the circuit and I wanted to learn as much as I could to review and take to Abu Dhabi, a track I know. We did some aero running early in the session, then some proper runs to change the set-up to my liking. All tyre compounds felt good and I got up to speed quickly. I was very happy with the car. The final half of the session was quite difficult: I was still doing fast laps while others were doing longer runs: it’s a short circuit and it’s difficult to find space. You end up compromising your warm-up procedures because you’re looking in the mirrors all the time, but it’s something from which I learnt a lot.

Russell will be back in action for the Silverstone based outfit during free practice one at the 2017 season finale, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix when he drives in place of Esteban Ocon.

Esteban Ocon had a strong opening session on Friday as he ended the morning in ninth place with a fastest time of 01:10.454s completing 26 laps while in the second session this afternoon, the Frenchman finished in seventh place with a fastest time of 01:10.306s completing 49 laps.

Speaking following the day of track action, Ocon commented by saying:

I’m happy with today. This morning the car was not at its best, but we made a massive step forward during second practice. The car feels much better now – close to where it should be, so it’s another good job by the team who made the correct decisions during the day. We need to keep improving ahead of tomorrow and hopefully we can be in our usual position for qualifying. It was very tough physically today because it’s very hot and humid – a bit like Singapore. I wasn’t expecting this and it was one of the toughest days in the car this year.

Sergio ‘Checo’ Perez finished the second session in 12th place with a fastest time of 01:10.695s completing 43 laps and speaking following the session he commented by saying:

I only drove this afternoon so there was a lot of work to squeeze into one session. It wasn’t easy to make the balance adjustments because of the tyre degradation during the session, but the team has collected a lot of good information and this will help us take a good direction tomorrow.

Sahara Force India deputy team principal, Robert Fernley commented on today’s action by saying:

As we expected, this turned out to be part winter testing day, part regular Friday, especially in FP1, with a very comprehensive plan split between the cars. George performed admirably, especially considering he had never driven our car or at Interlagos. As we expected after his good work in the simulator, he slotted straight in with the team. In FP2 we moved more towards a standard Friday, but with Sergio having to play catch-up after sitting out the morning session. We gathered a lot of data today, but now we have to put all our test items aside and concentrate on our regular race weekend. As always here, the margins are very tight and every tenth makes a big difference. Having a good Saturday puts you in a good place for Sunday, so that’s where we will focus now.

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