Russell Completes Force India FP1 Session at Abu Dhabi
GP3 Series Champion and Mercedes-AMG F1 Junior George Russell set the 11th fastest time in the opening free practice session with Sahara Force India.
The 19-year-old Briton completed another strong session with Force India, setting a best lap time of 1:41.131s on his way to 11th in the session. Russell’s best time was 0.8s behind seasoned team driver Sergio Perez in the sister Force India car – as Russell replaced fellow Mercedes-AMG F1 Junior Esteban Ocon for FP1.
A busy Friday morning schedule at the Yas Marina Circuit for Russell saw him just finish his opening practice session in the GP3 Series with ART – before quickly heading over to Force India to prepare himself for the opening Formula 1 session of the weekend.
Russell completed most of his running on the hardest of the three compounds supplied by Pirelli for the Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. The BRDC Superstar completed a mixture of aerodynamic tests in preparation for the 2018 season for the team, before settling into the free practice programme supplied.
The session was focussing mainly on longer runs and race pace related to trialling parts ready for the 2018 season. This preparation for next season was reliant on his performance on track, alongside supplying feedback regarding the changes for the team to develop into the post-season test and beyond.
Russell spent most of his running on the Soft (Prime) tyre in the early stages, keeping on the tyre for the majority of the session as he set a lap time within 1.2s of Perez – even on tyres that were two steps harder in compound.
Nearing the end of the session, Russell set his best time at a similar time to his teammate to give him a strong baseline to compare – using the Supersoft Pirelli Tyres on this occasion.
Despite it only being his second session in the VJM10, Russell once again settled into the team seamlessly, on his way to setting a strong pace relative to teammate Perez around the 5.554km Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi.
George Russell "Another very enjoyable experience working with this team. It’s always nice to have the opportunity to be in the car because your confidence improves with every run and you get more and more comfortable with the car.
Today’s session was an important part of the team’s preparations for next year with some different specification parts being tried on my car. It was not about lap times but simply collecting the data and giving accurate feedback to the team."
Robert Fernley - Force India Deputy Team Principal " Once again we spent a big part of today’s practice sessions preparing for 2018 with a high volume of test items to evaluate. George ran a different spec car this morning to give us some aero data and did a great job with very accurate feedback."
After his debrief, Russell had to head straight back to his GP3 duties with ART, jumping in the car ready for the final Qualifying session of the 2017 GP3 Series - of which he is already crowned Driver’s Champion for this season.
Qualifying takes place at 15:00 local time (11:00 UK Time), with Race One live tomorrow on Sky Sports F1 HD at 12:25 local time (08:25 UK Time) and the final race of the session taking place on Sunday 26 November at 12:50 local time (08:50 UK Time).
Tune in to see the GP3 Champion in action, aiming to finish a brilliant season with more victories and podiums, as 2017 comes to a close.
Quotes: Courtesy of Force India F1 Team
Images: Courtesy of Force India F1 Team