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Hydraulics limit Force India's charge

Force India opened their session with test driver Vitantonio Liuzzi lapping one minute, 23.035 seconds, that placed him 11th overall.

india Updated: Jan 15, 2008 20:50 IST

Cars Kitted with the new standard electronic control unit (ECU), minus traction control and other driver aids, marked the start of the 2008 Formula One season, which got underway with the official test session in Jerez, Spain, on Monday.

According to information received here, Force India opened their session with test driver Vitantonio Liuzzi lapping one minute, 23.035 seconds, that placed him 11th overall, way behind David Coulthard of Red Bull Racing, who was the quickest with a 1:19.677 in wet conditions.

Liuzzi's 47 laps around the 4.423 km track was often interrupted by red flags as most drivers struggled to come to grips with the electronics package that puts more emphasis on 'manual' driving.

World champion Kimi Raikkonen and his Ferrari team-mate Felipe Massa were second and third with 1:19.845 and 1:20.123, respectively.

The surprise of the day was Sebastien Vettel of Toro Rosso whose 1:20.732 lap placed him fourth, ahead of McLaren's Pedro de la Rosa (1:20.883) and Heikki Kovalainen (1:20.936).

Force India's lead driver Giancarlo Fisichella will take over from Liuzzi for next test drive, with Adrian Sutil getting behind the wheel for the final day of testing on Wednesday.

"We have improved from the last test we did here and the car seemed to respond better than last time. It was quite a difficult day though, as we had a few mechanical problems and we had to wait in the garage for a while, so we didn't put in too many laps," Liuzzi said after his test drive.

"But the few laps we did I think were pretty positive. It was just unfortunate that the issues stopped us doing some more, but it is a three-day test and we can look forward to some more development. We are going in the right direction and still have a lot of work to do," he said.

Mike Gascoyne, the chief technical officer of Force India said: "A reasonably productive day of testing, and good to shake out the cobwebs and start again in 2008. As the morning was wet, we did some running in both wet and dry conditions, but we had a couple of hydraulic issues throughout the day that limited the lap count.

"Overall it was a reasonably useful day," said Gascoyne.