Adrian Sutil is confident that the new Force India VJM04 is a significant step forward over last year's car, after driving it for the first time at Jerez today.
Sutil covered just 28 laps on the opening day of this week's test after the car was sidelined early on with teething troubles. But once running in the afternoon he set a 1m23.472sec to finish seventh overall.
"It's difficult to tell where we are, but my feeling is very good right now – it's just everywhere a little better than last year's car," Sutil said. "I didn't do too many laps but at least in the end we could do a proper hour of running – just baseline runs. The balance was all right; it's very nice and smooth to drive.
"Now we have to see where the performance is and how we compare to the others. It's too early to say. But it's a reliable car and I have a good feeling that we will do a lot of laps tomorrow."
The Force India team had to solve an issue with the floor of the VJM04 this morning, when it found that the blast shields were not strong enough.
"We lost a bit of time with some blast shields on the floor, to do with the way the exhaust is mounted and blows," explained Force India's chief race and test engineer Dominic Harlow. "They're there to protect the floor and were perhaps a little bit on the lightweight side it turned out – they're a new material we'd not used before. We had to engineer our way out of that, which took us a little bit of time, ingenuity and some skill from one of the team members.
"We got back on track later this afternoon and we reached a point where the car was operating normally, all the temperatures were stable and we were happy with the cooling and all of the systems."