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Pirelli tyre test, day two - Alonso keeps Ferrari in front 20 Nov 2010

Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari. Formula One Testing, Pirelli Tyre Testing, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Saturday 20 November 2010. Michael Schumacher (GER) Mercedes GP MGP W01. Formula One Testing, Pirelli Tyre Testing, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Saturday 20 November 2010. Sebastien Buemi (SUI) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR5. Formula One Testing, Pirelli Tyre Testing, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Saturday 20 November 2010. Jarno Trulli (ITA) Lotus T127. Formula One Testing, Pirelli Tyre Testing, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Saturday 20 November 2010. Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB6. Formula One Testing, Pirelli Tyre Testing, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Saturday 20 November 2010.

Pirelli concluded their first team test in Abu Dhabi on Saturday, ahead of their return to Formula One next season as the sport’s sole tyre supplier. All 12 teams were present, each having access to another two sets of Pirelli’s prime (medium) and option (soft) tyres.

It was again Ferrari who led the way, this time with Fernando Alonso at the wheel. The Spaniard completed over 100 laps of the Yas Marina Circuit, clocking a best time of 1m 40.529s, just under half a second slower than team mate Felipe Massa went on Friday.

“Overall, it was a positive day,” commented Alonso. “We had no particular problems with the Pirelli tyres and we were able to gather a lot of data for their engineers to work on. We are pleased with the way we worked and in how we were able to adapt the set-up of the car to suit the new tyres, especially in terms of the work we can do on the new car in preparation for next season. From what we could see, the switch from Bridgestone to Pirelli should not be a traumatic one.”

Much has been made of how the move to Pirelli tyres could make Michael Schumacher more competitive next season and the former champion - who actually experienced the Italian company’s rubber during their last F1 stint almost two decades ago - was cautiously optimistic.

"Today was my first day of testing for 2011 and I feel that we had an interesting session,” said Schumacher. “We gathered a lot of data and insights, and have positive feedback from our first impression of the new tyres.

“I am probably the only driver to have driven with Pirelli tyres before but it was 20 years ago and I didn't have any certain expectations before today. In terms of consistency, it looked quite good but we were using the 2010 car today and it will be all about how these tyres suit our 2011 car.”

Red Bull’s title-winning RB6 enjoyed its last day of official track action as new world champion Sebastian Vettel finished third in the timesheets. On Sunday he will return to his home town of Heppenheim in Germany for the first time since his triumph in Abu Dhabi last weekend.

“There is still a lot to do, but I think the tyres are already better than expected,” said Vettel. “Since February we haven’t really had time to do any in-depth testing on track, so these two days have given us a chance to reflect on things we have tried during the season.”

Rubens Barrichello was fourth fastest for Williams after 101 laps. “We evaluated different braking systems today from which we have some interesting results,” explained Tom McCullough, Williams’ senior test engineer.

“The rest of the session was spent concentrating on performance set-up work and understanding the new tyres. In summary, the team has had a productive week in Abu Dhabi. We’re pleased with the progress made with Pirelli, and we’ve collected plenty of valuable information.”

At McLaren, driving duties were shared by Britons Oliver Turvey and Gary Paffett. Barely a tenth of a second separated the two, as they went sixth and seventh fastest, reserve driver Paffett just having the edge.

After technical woes cut short his Friday running, Renault’s Robert Kubica had a more productive session, completing 90 laps en route to fifth in the times.

“We managed to complete medium length runs on both the soft and medium compounds without any significant issues,” confirmed Renault’s chief engineer Alan Permane. “This allowed us to start understanding the tyre characteristics and assess the degradation rates.

“We struggled with some understeer today, which we never totally got rid of, so we still need to try and understand that. Over the next couple months we will continue building our relationship with Pirelli by exchanging data so that we’re ready for winter testing to resume next February.”

Paul di Resta was the quicker of the two Force India drivers present, going eighth fastest to Tonio Liuzzi’s 11th. As well as tyre evaluation, the team completed tests designed to gather as much information as possible on weight distribution, aero settings and general balance to feed back into the development programme of their 2011 challenger, the VJM04.

BMW Sauber had both their 2011 race drivers in action; Kamui Kobayashi in the morning and Sergio Perez in the afternoon. Both experienced technical problems with the car, but were happy with progress, the Japanese finishing ninth, the Mexican 12th.

Sebastien Buemi took over from team mate Jaime Alguersuari in the Toro Rosso, the Swiss driver going tenth fastest after just under 100 laps.

“We got through a lot of laps, with a mix of short and long runs,” explained the team’s chief engineer, Laurent Mekies. “It was especially useful that Sebastien was able to do a very long run, equivalent to a race distance on the soft Pirelli tyre, so there is a lot of data from which we can learn for next season.”

Jarno Trulli replaced Heikki Kovalainen in the Lotus, the Italian finishing 13th after 83 laps. “It’s been a very positive day,” he said. “It was good to try the Pirelli tyres for the first time and while we have obviously got a lot of work ahead of us I think this was a good start.

“We will need to focus on the driveability of the tyres - on performance they were good, but we will need to work together in a clear direction to maximise the handling of the car. The hard compounds were pretty consistent, a little less so with the softs, but we have gathered a lot of data that will play an important part in the development of next year’s car.”

GP2 champion Pastor Maldonado was again at the wheel for HRT in 14th place, while completing the timesheets was Virgin’s Timo Glock.

“With regard to the Pirelli tyres I think we have seen some positive things and also some things that need to be addressed, but that is to be expected,” said Glock. “The option looks very good and is very consistent but there seems to be a lot of rear degradation with the prime, so that’s something to be worked on.

“Generally though a very good test and now it’s over to the technical guys to feed all that back into the programme and make sure we have a strong package next season.”

Unofficial Saturday times from Abu Dhabi:
1. Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, 1:40.529, 105 laps
2. Michael Schumacher, Mercedes GP, 1:40.685, 74
3. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, 1:40.825, 66
4. Rubens Barrichello, Williams, 1:41.294, 101
5. Robert Kubica, Renault, 1:41.614, 90
6. Gary Paffett, McLaren, 1:41.622, 46
7. Oliver Turvey, McLaren, 1:41.740, 30
8. Paul di Resta, Force India, 1:41.869, 35
9. Kamui Kobayashi, BMW Sauber, 1:42.110, 43
10. Sebastien Buemi, Toro Rosso, 1:42.145, 98
11. Vitantonio Liuzzi, Force India, 1:42.416, 46
12. Sergio Perez, BMW Sauber, 1:42.777, 46
13. Jarno Trulli, Lotus, 1:44.521, 83
14. Pastor Maldonado, HRT, 1:44.768, 65
15. Timo Glock, Virgin, 1:44.783, 82

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