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Pirelli tyre test, day one - Massa ahead in Abu Dhabi 19 Nov 2010

Pirelli tyre.
Formula One Testing, Day Three, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Friday, 19 November 2010 Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari. Formula One Testing, Pirelli Tyre Testing, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Friday 19 November 2010. Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB6. Formula One Testing, Day Three, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Friday 19 November 2010. Robert Kubica (POL) Renault R30. Formula One Testing, Day Three, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Friday 19 November 2010. Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes GP MGP W01. Formula One Testing, Day Three, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Friday 19 November 2010.

All 12 Formula One teams got their first taste of the latest Pirelli rubber on Friday, as a two-day tyre test began at Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina Circuit. Topping the times was a man who struggled to get the best from his tyres during the 2010 season, Ferrari’s Felipe Massa.

Pirelli replace Bridgestone as Formula One racing’s sole tyre supplier next year and have already conducted several private test sessions. At Yas Marina the teams are running the Italian company’s soft and medium compounds, with a total of eight sets available over the two days.

“It was a positive start to begin to understand the behaviour of the Pirelli tyres,” remarked pacesetter Massa. “I felt at ease right from the start and there were no unpleasant surprises.

“We acquired a lot of data which will be useful for the Italian company to develop the tyres still further for the start of the 2011 season. On the harder tyres, there were some difficulties over a long run while the softs worked well both on the very first lap and also after they had done a larger number of laps.”

Newly-crowned world champion Sebastian Vettel was back in the car for Red Bull, the German finishing three-tenths down on Massa after a trouble-free 78 laps in the RB6.

“I think the tyres behaved well, better than expected given the short amount of time Pirelli have had and they’ve done a good job,” he said. “Pirelli are obviously in the middle of their development and what we used today is not what we will race with, but it was a good start.”

Third place went to McLaren test driver Gary Paffett, whose team reported a basic balance and performance from the Pirelli tyres similar to the Bridgestones', while fourth in the times was BMW Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi, the Japanese driver overcoming some initial tyre wear issues once the team had found a satisfactory set-up on the C29.

“We have to hand it to Pirelli, the tyres are already on a good level and we feel it was a very positive day,” said BMW Sauber technical director James Key. “We feel we learned a lot about the way the tyres are behaving and responding to different set-up changes.”

Robert Kubica was fifth fastest for Renault, who had to cut short their programme after the R30 developed a technical fault. The team reported positive first impressions from the tyres, with good grip and no warm-up issues.

Williams took the opportunity to conduct some aero testing first thing, before moving onto their evaluation of the Pirelli tyres and Rubens Barrichello declared himself happy after clocking the day’s sixth best time.

Force India reserve Paul di Resta shared the VJM03 with team mate Adrian Sutil, the Scot going seventh to the German’s tenth. Splitting them was the Mercedes of Nico Rosberg and the Toro Rosso of Jaime Alguersuari, and following them the Virgin of Timo Glock.

Commenting on Mercedes’ progress, team principal Ross Brawn said: "Today has been very important for the team to start building our relationship with Pirelli. Whilst a lot of details remain to be understood, we feel that we have gained an initial understanding of the operational requirements of the two compounds that we have and have highlighted some important areas for investigation and improvement.

“We have been lucky to have been able to get exposure to the Pirelli tyres at a track with which we are now very familiar and in conditions that we will not experience again until the final test of the season in Bahrain. Michael (Schumacher) watched today's proceedings with great interest and is looking forward to experiencing the tyres for himself tomorrow."

Lotus’s chief technical officer Mike Gascoyne was positive after Heikki Kovalainen completed the team’s programme in 88 laps to finish 12th in the timesheets.

“The car was ballasted up to the 2011 weight limit for the day and we ran a series of fundamental tests within the parameters we could change with the tyres and in the afternoon we found some clear and useful setup directions for the engineers to work on,” explained Gascoyne.

“We set our quickest lap of the day at the end of the session on a pretty worn set and all of the data gives us very useful information that we will carry over to tomorrow when Jarno (Trulli) is back in the car for his first taste of the new Pirelli tyres.”

After driving for both HRT and Williams during the young driver test earlier in the week, reigning GP2 champion Pastor Maldonado was back in action for the Spanish team, covering 83 laps en route to 13th in the times.

Summing up Pirelli’s Friday in Abu Dhabi, motorsport director Paul Hembery commented: "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. We're gathering plenty of useful information and valuable suggestions, as well as some encouraging comments.

“So far, I would say that everything has gone according to plan. In particular we are very pleased with the reliability and stability of our tyres as well as with the turn-in performance of the front tyre. 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."

Unofficial Friday times from Abu Dhabi:
1. Felipe Massa, Ferrari, 1:40.170, 94 laps
2. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, 1:40.500, 78
3. Gary Paffett, McLaren, 1:40.874, 94
4. Kamui Kobayashi, BMW 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, 21
8. Nico Rosberg, Mercedes GP, 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, HRT, 1:45.728, 83

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