McLaren ended its difficult 2015 campaign on a positive note by topping the times in the Pirelli tyre test at Abu Dhabi.
Reserve driver and newly crowned GP2 champion Stoffel Vandoorne completed 99 laps during the 12 hour session at the Yas Marina circuit, posting a day best of 1:44.103s.
The time proved to be 0.3s faster than Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen, who was among a group of nine drivers in action from the 2015 grid.
Teams were not permitted to try any new parts on their cars with the test solely devoted to tyre development.
Pirelli distributed several prototypes of its new ultra-soft compound tyres to be introduced next season as the Italian manufacturer bids to spice up the tyre strategies for 2016.
“We had one shot when it came to testing tyres for next season, and we can be satisfied by what we’ve achieved in this test, even if we have to fully analyse the data,” said Pirelli Motorsport’s Paul Hembery.
“We’ve tested different versions of the new ultra-soft compound for 2016, which was one of the targets for this session.
“The ultra-soft’s target for 2016 is to introduce a compound softer than the super-soft and mainly designed as aggressive choice for street circuits, with better performance than the latest version of the super-soft tyre and faster degradation, in order to allow the teams to take a more aggressive approach to race strategy.
“Whether this will produce more pit stops, or any difference in strategies, it’s too early to say for now.
“But it seems we are heading in the right direction: the ultra-soft is expected to offer more possibilities for certain races.”
Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson emerged as the best of the rest in third ahead of Lotus’ new signing Jolyon Palmer.
The sister Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel was fifth while Mercedes Pascal Wehrlein and Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo occupied sixth and seventh.
Toro Rosso’s Max Verstappen, Force Indias Nico Hulkenberg and the Williams of Valtteri Bottas completed the top 10.
The test saw Force India’s new development driver Alfonso Celis make his F1 debut, while GP2 drivers Jordan King and Rio Haryanto piloted the two Manors.
Result: Formula 1 Abu Dhabi Pirelli Tyre Test
|7||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull||1:45.805s||57|
|8||Max Verstappen||Toro Rosso||1:45.849s||54|
|9||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India||1:45.852s||71|
|11||Daniil Kvyat||Red Bull||1:46.309s||48|
|12||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso||1:46.995s||56|
|14||Alfonso Celis||Force India||1:48.545s||65|