Di Resta gets ready for his stint in first practice at Albert Park
Scot Paul di Resta said he was able to "push myself beyond my comfortable limits" as he made his debut at a grand prix weekend in Australia.
The 23-year-old drove the Force India in place of German Adrian Sutil during first practice and set the 11th fastest time of one minute 28.537 seconds.
"I was pretty nervous; after all Albert Park is one of the most difficult tracks on the calendar," he said.
"It's a good starting block for both me and I hope the team this weekend."
Sutil and Vitantonio Liuzzi will alternate giving up their seats for Di Resta in Friday's first practice session over the season - with Italian Liuzzi sitting out the session next week in Malaysia - as Force India are keen to develop the Scot's career.
The main job is to get the mileage and learn the track but most importantly to try and build a base for the drivers in the race with the optimum set-up
Force India reserve driver Paul di Resta
After signing as the team's reserve driver in December Di Resta, who is a cousin of reigning IndyCar champion Dario Franchitti, took part in a day's rain-soaked winter testing in Jerez.
In Friday's first practice in Melbourne, he finished just behind Liuzzi and ahead of seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher.
And Di Resta says the session was a good chance to learn about the car in dry conditions.
"I had to feel comfortable in the car, particularly as I've not had the chance to drive it in the dry after the wet testing we had over the winter," he added.
"Albert Park is half street, half track so I had to build the programme from the bottom to the top.
"It was something new and once the track rubbered in I was able to push myself beyond my comfortable limits.
"In Melbourne there's not much margin for error and therefore I had to be careful in some sectors as the walls get pretty close here.
"But the main job is to get the mileage and learn the track but most importantly to try and build a base for the drivers in the race with the optimum set-up."
Di Resta is highly regarded by Force India and engine supplier Mercedes, for whom he will continue in the German touring car championship (DTM).
Force India boss Vijay Mallya has said: "Paul has lots of potential but the question is how can he use this potential?
"This is a good solution all round. The race drivers are supportive of the move - they've all been young drivers at one time."
Four years ago, Di Resta beat Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel, who finished second in the world championship to Jenson Button last year, to the 2006 Formula Three Euroseries title.
The Scot also counts 2008 world champion Lewis Hamilton and Renault's Robert Kubica among his team-mates in the junior formulas and he is relishing the chance to renew battle with his peers in F1.
"I've raced with Lewis, Sebastian and Robert and I'm never surprised at what they've achieved," said Di Resta earlier in the week.
"I've always believed that we were the generation coming through. It's been a tough challenge throughout our careers - and I'm sure they'll say that too.
"We've taken different routes but I just hope that one day we can all be back on the grid, battling it out and showing these older guys what we're made of."