autosport.com - the authority on Formula One, F1, MotoGP, WRC, IndyCar, GP2, F2, Le Mans, NASCAR and more
Pirelli begins first official F1 test
By Edd Straw Friday, November 19th 2010, 05:10 GMT
Pirelli's first official Formula 1 tyre test started in Abu Dhabi on Friday morning, with all 12 teams getting their first chance to sample the Italian company's rubber.
Scuderia Toro Rosso driver Jaime Alguersuari was the first to take to the track on Pirellis, using one of the eight sets of tyres that are available to each team during the two-day test. These are divided between the soft and medium compounds.
It is the first time that the tyres have run on a current Formula 1 car, with all testing so far having be done privately by Pirelli on a 2009-specification Toyota TF109 that it has hired for testing.
Teams are hoping that the two-day Abu Dhabi test will give them the opportunity to understand how the characteristics of the new rubber will affect the cars.
Pirelli has supplied an engineer to each outfit, but has not dictated how the test will be run. It will be up to the individual teams to run the test as they see fit before sharing the data with the Italian tyre company.
Sauber technical director James Key told AUTOSPORT: "It's about getting an understanding of how the tyres differ from what we are used to.
"We head in with a car setup that isn't specific to the Pirellis and we will see if the offset that we get in the way that the car behaves is what we expect from the tyre data that we have.
"Then it will be case of understanding the fundamentals - how the tyres respond to basic mechanical set-up changes, how they respond to different fuel loads, how they degrade and how they warm up.
"It will be basic stuff on the first day, then maybe on the second day we can see how they react to changes and if we can get a bit more out of them from changing the set-up or the way that the drivers are using them. We can look at longer runs as well."
Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery told AUTOSPORT yesterday that laptimes are not the focus for the test. Instead, he is keen for feedback from the teams to help the company modify its compounds for the start of pre-season testing next February.
"It's not important because the track changes a lot," Hembery told AUTOSPORT. "We have never set out looking for laptimes."
Running on Friday are: Gary Paffett (McLaren), Nico Rosberg (Mercedes), Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull), Felipe Massa (Ferrari), Rubens Barrichello (Williams), Robert Kubica (Renault), Adrian Sutil/Paul di Resta (Force India), Jaime Alguersuari (Scuderia Toro Rosso), Heikki Kovalainen (Lotus), Pastor Maldonado (HRT), Kamui Kobayashi/Sergio Perez (Sauber) and Timo Glock (Virgin).