James Calado professed himself 'happy' after making his Force India debut
GP2 prospect 17th fastest in opening practice for Italian GP
By Mike Wise at Monza
Last Updated: 17/09/13 1:37pm
The 24-year-old Briton, who was confirmed as the Silverstone-based team's third driver earlier this week, ended the opening session 17th fastest overall.
Calado momentarily left the track towards the end of his 90-minute run but still got to within about 0.4s of the time set by team-mate Paul di Resta during the 24 laps he completed.
"It was quite a strange feeling but I got used to everything and I think we did a good job," said Calado, who took the place of Adrian Sutil. "We got a good balance that Adrian will progress on to FP2 so I was happy.
"Everything ran smoothly, no big mistakes and it was nice really - nice to get back in one. The novelty never wears off. You always feel, 'Oh blimey, this is really, really fast', especially here at Monza at the end of the straights."
Force India plumped for the GP2 frontrunner after he impressed them during July's Young Driver Test. They intend to run him in several more practice sessions towards the end of the season but there are no plans beyond that as yet.
Naturally, Calado wants that to change. "That's the dream, but I don't have any future plans," he confirmed. "I can only do my best now both in GP2 and the F1 practice. We'll see what happens.
"The ambition is obviously to be a race driver; that's what I've always dreamed of. I'll do my very, very best to try and get there."
It was a busy morning for Calado, who was back on track in his GP2 car half an hour after his F1 outing. Even so, he found the transition less difficult than he'd anticipated.
"It wasn't tough at all actually. In GP2 we spend two laps warming the tyres because we don't have tyre warmers. So in those two laps I became familiar with everything," he said.
"I braked a little bit too late in some corners but to be honest it was fine and on my first lap I was straightaway P1.
"That's something that gives me confidence going forward because if there's one worry I had, which I don't need anymore."
Calado was, however, less happy with his performance in the GP2 practice session in which he finished 11th fastest overall.
Despite winning in Belgium a fortnight ago, Calado has struggled with his ART-run car for most of the season and currently stands fifth in the Championship.
"It going to be a tough weekend in Monza, unless we find a good balance," he admitted. "It's a bit of an awkward question but I won't give up. I'll keep working with the guys and hopefully try and get some more wins."