F1 teams use Pirelli tyres for the first time

Felipe Massa set the fastest time on the first day of Pirelli tyre testing

Drivers including recently crowned World Champion Sebastien Vettel have completed the first full day of all-in testing of Pirelli’s Formula One tyres at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi.

It was Ferrari’s number #2 driver Felipe Massa who set the benchmark time of the day. His time was some two seconds off the pace of qualifying for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and the time set by Australia’s Daniel Ricciardo at the rookie test.

Although the gap to the Bridgestone tyre was significant, F1 teams and Pirelli engineers will work to better understand the tuning required to getting the most out of the Italian rubber during the second day of testing later today.

Vettel who last Sunday night was crowned World Champion joined every team (12) on the F1 grid for the test, with Pirelli supplying each four sets of tyres in soft and medium compounds so that they could carry out their own pre-defined test programmes. The same quantities of Pirelli rubber will be supplied to the teams once more later today, when some of the champions who missed the first day’s action will take to the track.

Conditions were dry and warm with air temperatures of 25 degrees and a track temp of 37 degrees. By the end of the day teams completed between 70-94 laps, the equivalent of a Grand Prix and half of running.

“We’re very pleased with this first day of testing and the excellent working relationship that has been struck up between our engineers and all the teams and drivers,” said Paul Hembery, Pirelli’s motorsport director.

“So far, I would say that everything has gone according to plan. The lap times set by all the teams have been excellent, and they have each covered a lot of ground as can be seen from the number of laps run. The teams are also making the most of these test sessions to try out different set-ups and some new ideas for 2011, which provides us with an even greater challenge and more meaningful results. I would say that we are in a strong position now to approach the first official tests in February 2011 with a good package.”

Only one minor drama for the day, and that occurred to the new World Champ, when Vettel suffered a right-rear tyre failure. Vettel was able to stop without incident on the track and Pirelli and Red Bull Racing engineers examined the car and tyre on the circuit. Pirelli tracking the incident back to the Germany running over some track debris.

“We had an instant deflation right at the end of the day coming up to Turn 11,” said Hembery. “The guys are out on the track now having a look to see what caused it.

“In general, the track is quite dirty after six days of running and there’s a lot of debris on the track. We were starting to notice some cuts on the rear tyres.

“It’s nothing untoward – we just want to find out what’s causing it.”

Interview with Paul Hembery

Day 1 – Pirelli Testing : Yas Marina

Pos Driver Team Time Laps
1 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:40.170 94
2 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:40.500 77
3 Gary Paffett McLaren 1:40.874 94
4 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 1:40.950 83
5 Robert Kubica Renault 1:41.032 39
6 Rubens Barrichello Williams 1:41.425 91
7 Paul di Resta Force India 1:41.615 20
8 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:41.778 81
9 Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso 1:42.019 71
10 Adrian Sutil Force India 1:42.859 20
11 Timo Glock Virgin 1:44.124 78
12 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus 1:44.686 88
13 Pastor Maldonado Hispania 1:45.728 83

*All times unofficial

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