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Force India cars make mark, gearbox problem for Karun

March 26, 2010 17:24 IST

Force India cars figured in top 10 in both the segments ahead of Sunday's Australian Grand Prix but India's lone F1 driver Karun Chandhok could complete only 20 laps before a gearbox problem ended his run in the free practice sessions in Melbourne on Friday.

On a day marred by frequent red flags and intermittent rain, Force India's Vitantonio Liuzzi (1:28.192) clocked the 10th fastest time of the morning session, just ahead of teammate and race driver Paul di Resta (1:28.537), who was behind the wheel of VJM03 in place of test driver Adrian Sutil.

Sutil was back in charge in the rain-swept afternoon session and his best lap of (1:26.834) was seventh fastest, marginally ahead of Liuzzi's 1:26.835.

"The rain in the second session was not ideal, particularly as I had sat out the first session, but we did what we could and I think overall the findings were very positive," Sutil later said.

"Everything seems to be working OK and we could get all the information we wanted today. I still have a good feeling about this weekend and I would like to better the result we had in Bahrain," said the German.

Liuzzi, who scored the team's first points this season in Bahrain, was happy with the way his car behaved.

"The car was responding pretty well to the changes we made over the sessions. I was quite happy with the balance," Liuzzi said.

"In the first session there were the two red flags in quite quick succession and then the weather didn't help in the second practice. Unfortunately then there was always traffic as there were people slowing down and backing off to try and get some space so I didn't get a free lap. It was like people were on a Sunday drive in some places," said the Italian.

Meanwhile, rookie Hispania driver Karun Chandhok finally got some mileage under his belt at the Albert Park before his afternoon session came to a premature end.

Karun made 19 laps in the morning session and his best of 1:34.251 put him in the penultimate place, ahead of Virgin's Timo Glock.

The Chennai lad had barely completed 100 meters when he had to stop with a gearbox problem.

"We were ready straight away when the first session started and after a seven-lap run I achieved a best lap of 1m 36.259s. It was nice to do some useful laps again this morning, and a pity I had the gearbox problem in the second session," Karun later said.

McLaren, meanwhile, sent out an ominous warning with Lewis Hamilton (1:25.801) and Jenson Button (1:26.076) setting the fastest times in the second practice session.

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