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Alonso Fastest On Final Day Of Pirelli Tests

Fernando Alonso was the fastest man on the second and final day of the Pirelli tyre tests at Abu Dhabi.

The Spaniard, who came close to winning the 2010 World Championship, set a fastest time of 1.40.529.  That was around a tenth quicker than second placed man Michael Schumacher who has clearly taken to the Pirelli tyres better than team mate Nico Rosberg.

World Champion Sebastian Vettel was third, while McLaren testers Gary Paffett and Oliver Turvey were 6th and 7th.

Pastor Maldonado, linked heavily with a 2011 Williams drive, was out for Hispania once again and finished in 14th place just ahead of Virgin’s Timo Glock.

Pos  Driver              Team         Time       Laps
 1.  Fernando Alonso     Ferrari      1m40.529s  105
 2.  Michael Schumacher  Mercedes     1m40.685s  74
 3.  Sebastian Vettel    Red Bull     1m40.825s  66
 4.  Rubens Barrichello  Williams     1m41.294s  100
 5.  Robert Kubica       Renault      1m41.614s  91
 6.  Gary Paffett        McLaren      1m41.622s  46
 7.  Oliver Turvey       McLaren      1m41.740s  30
 8.  Paul di Resta       Force India  1m41.869s  35
 9.  Kamui Kobayashi     Sauber       1m42.110s  43
10.  Sebastien Buemi     Toro Rosso   1m42.145s  97
11.  Tonio Liuzzi        Force India  1m42.416s  46
12.  Sergio Perez        Sauber       1m42.777s  46
13.  Jarno Trulli        Lotus        1m44.521s  83
14.  Pastor Maldonado    Hispania     1m44.768s  65
15.  Timo Glock          Virgin       1m44.783s  82



Drivers Reaction Following First Pirelli Tyre Test

Various drivers had the opportunity to test the new Pirelli tyres today in the first test at Abu Dhabi.  While only driving their 2010 machines, it will give them the chance to evaluate the new rubber from the Italian manufacturer.

Here’s what a variety of the drivers thought about the tyres following the test.

Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Racing):

“Given the short amount of time Pirelli had, I think they did a good job,” said world champion Sebastian Vettel, who set the second-fastest time of the day. “It’s a good start and it was good to be back in the car.

“You need to give the car a bit of time to adapt to the tyres. We need to work on the set-up, but I think it’s a common view that the tyres have behaved pretty well and probably better than a lot of people expected.”

Rubens Barrichello (Williams):

“I’ve been positively impressed,” said Barrichello. “The track is a little bit different because I think they polished the asphalt because of the Bridgestone rubber.

“I don’t think it’s time to make comparisons, but I thought it was positive. I did 42 laps in the morning and it was okay. They are different to Bridgestones and we need to keep learning. We could not expect a completely different tyre to work the same way. I quite like the challenge.”

Felipe Massa (Ferrari):

“The harder compound has a lot of degradation and it’s not as quick as I expected,” Massa said.

“As for the softer tyre, I was very happy with it. It’s quick, degradation is very good. I did long runs with both and the one I did with the softer tyre was very good, possibly better than what I had last Sunday in the race.

“Of course, again, they’ll have to work to improve the harder compound they brought here, but that’s what this test was all about. Pirelli saw what happened, listened to our suggestions and understood the situation.”

Robert Kubica (Renault):

“It’s difficult to compare because we had a race five days ago and the track has changed quite a lot due to the testing and the rubber that was laid down,” said Kubica. “I’m sure that the track grip is much better than it was in the race.

“This makes it difficult to compare them – there’s no point really in comparing them. There’s quite a big difference. It is always pretty interesting when you change tyres to feel the difference and make some set-up changes and stuff like this.

“It’s just to get an idea for next year’s car which characteristics will work best. We will never get track conditions with so much rubber on the race weekends, so actually I don’t think it’s so significant, this test. A lot of the young drivers had many sets of new tyres! Although the track was washed yesterday, I didn’t recognise it. It was like a different track.”

Nico Rosberg (Mercedes Benz):

“They’re at least similar [to Bridgestone’s] or perhaps for worse for us at the moment”

“…In the big picture, they are pretty similar in the end to the Bridgestones, but if you are then looking for the fine tuning to extract the performance there is some way to go on adapting the set-up.

“At the moment, we have done the small things that you can do at the track but there are the bigger things that you need to take care of with the car development. That’s going to be one of the areas that are very important for success for next year.”

Massa Fastest On First Pirelli Tyre Test Day

Felipe Massa was the fastest man on the first day of testing for the new Pirelli tyres.

The Brazilian driver was narrowly quicker than World Champion Sebastian Vettel.

Today wasn’t really about the times, it was about seeing how the new tyres coped on the cars, and seemingly they have worked rather well.  No major problems for any driver, only a small puncture for Vettel at the end of the session which was due to track debris puncturing the tyre rather than a failure of the wheel itself.

Felipe Massa declared himself very happy following the test.

“It was a positive day to understand the way to go next year with a tyre that is quite different to the one we had in 2010,” said Massa. “We were able to see that direction quite quickly and we understood quite easily what the tyre required from the car and driver.

“But it’s also clear there are quite a lot of things to change for next year. Next year’s car will be quite different, of course, but today was positive and I’m pleased after working with Pirelli for the first time.”

Pos  Driver              Car          Time       Laps
 1.  Felipe Massa        Ferrari      1m40.170s  94
 2.  Sebastian Vettel    Red Bull     1m40.500s  77
 3.  Gary Paffett        McLaren      1m40.874s  94
 4.  Kamui Kobayashi     Sauber       1m40.950s  83
 5.  Robert Kubica       Renault      1m41.032s  39
 6.  Rubens Barrichello  Williams     1m41.425s  91
 7.  Paul di Resta       Force India  1m41.615s  20
 8.  Nico Rosberg        Mercedes     1m41.778s  81
 9.  Jaime Alguersuari   Toro Rosso   1m42.019s  71
10.  Adrian Sutil        Force India  1m42.859s  20
11.  Timo Glock          Virgin       1m44.124s  78
12.  Heikki Kovalainen   Lotus        1m44.686s  88
13.  Pastor Maldonado    Hispania     1m45.728s  83


Bye Bye Bridgestone!

At this afternoon’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Bridgestone will officially say sayonara to Formula One.  The Japanese tyre manufacturer has been working in the sport tirelessly (geddit?) since 1997, being the sole supplier of rubber since 2007.

They will have completed 242 Grand Prix by the time they have finished the race this afternoon.

“Abu Dhabi is likely to be an emotional weekend for everyone at Bridgestone Motorsport as this will be our final race” said Hiroshi Yasukawa, Director of Bridgestone Motorsport.

“I have been involved in Bridgestone’s motorsport operations since our very first limited entry in the 1976 and 1977 Japanese Grands Prix and pushed hard for our full time entry which finally came in 1997.

“In this time Bridgestone has grown enormously as a company, with Formula 1 showcasing our company’s strength and qualities on a world stage to an enormous audience.

“I have attended well over 200 races myself and have made so many good relationships with the participants in this wonderful sport. Next year will be very different for me and for all of my Bridgestone Motorsport colleagues.”

Bridgestone joined at the Australian Grand Prix of 1997, producing tyres for Prost, Lola, Stewart and Minardi.

“We entered the sport in 1997 against a very experienced competitor in Goodyear, who had contested so many races before, yet we were able to be competitive in our first season, even when most of the front-running teams were running on our rival’s products.” Hirohide Hamashima, head of tyre development said,

“We scored points in our first race and the first Bridgestone podium came in our second race. We even came very close to a win with Damon Hill in the Arrows Yamaha at Hungary so this was a very good debut for us.”

At the end of the season, Goodyear walked away from F1 and Bridgestone became the sole tyre supplier.  They would remain in this position until 2001, when Michelin came into the sport.

“From 2001 to 2006 we battled hard with Michelin,” continued Hamashima.“Our engineers in Japan and at the track were dedicated to winning and we learnt so many things in this period.”

Many top teams left the supply of Bridgestone for Michelin who had percieved to have created better tyres.  Ferrari stuck with the Japanese manufacturer and delivered drivers and constructors titles between 2000 and 2004 with Michael Schumacher at the wheel.  In 2005 and 2006 however Fernando Alonso, Michelin and Renault would be the success story.

The tyre war saw increasing budgets and controversy.  At the 2005 United States Grand Prix the tyre war came to a head.  The cars on Michelin tyres all completed the parade lap of the race and returned to the garages leaving just 6 cars on the starting grid for the race.  Nothing like this had been seen before, or thankfully since.  Fans were outraged, Bernie Ecclestone too was fuming.  The reason behind it was the Michelin tyre sidewalls were alleged to be not strong enough to cope with the banking at the Indianapolis circuit, so in order to keep within safety regulations they pulled out of the race.

At the end of 2006, Michelin walked away from F1 and Bridgestone once again became the sole tyre supplier.  It was at this time, the soft/hard compound tyre rules came in and the white stripe was added to the grooved tyres to show which driver was on which compound.  The move, designed to spark greater creativity in pit stop strategy and spice up the spectacle with fans remains with us today.  At the 2008 Japanese Grand Prix, green stripes were added to the tyres in order to make greater awareness that Bridgestone were being a “green” and “carbon friendly” company.

For 2009, the big news was that grooved tyres were gone and slick tyres were returning.  A big hit with the fans, the soft and hard tyre compounds have provided two seasons of classic racing and championships.

Pirelli are set to take over from the start of next season, so its farewell and thanks to the Bridgestone Tyre Company for all the time, money and effort they put into creating such a vital part of our sport.

Thanks, and goodbye Bridgestone!

Pirelli Exit WRC To Focus On F1

Pirelli have confirmed they will be exiting tyre production in the World Rally Championship in order to focus on their tyre supply to Formula One.

Pirelli, the Italian tyre manufacturer, won the contract to be the sole tyre supplier to Formula One earlier this year and have already begun testing ahead of their supply to the teams.  Using an un-raced Toyota TF109 with Nick Heidfeld at the wheel, early tyre tests have been said to be positive.

The manufacturer say that F1 isn’t the only reason why they are leaving.  They have added that the extent of the rule changes in WRC for 2011 and then in 2012 have forced them the last mile out of the door.  Michelin are said to be interested in tendering for the now open WRC contract.

“The first point to make here is the way the rules have been changed,” Paul Hembery, boss of Pirelli Motorsport told Autosport. “There have been three significant rule changes in the last nine months – and, possibly, an even more significant change coming in 2012.

“In December we tendered for another three-year deal to supply tyres for WRC. Once again, our tender was set out to provide finance for continued investment in the FIA, in the sport’s promoter and, of course in the Pirelli Star Driver scheme which we financed from its inception in 2008.

“That three-year tender was rejected and we were offered a one-year extension on the same terms as the current three-year deal, then a one-year deal on the new tender conditions – that was something we felt was unacceptable.

“And now we come to the current regulation, which we feel is neither a control tyre scenario or competition. And, based on the experiences we have had in GT racing, where regulations similar to those in the WRC were open to interpretation and were flexible if a [tyre] manufacturer was having some difficulties. We explained those issues [to the FIA] and we have had no significant response. These rules leave a lot to be desired and we have communicated these limitations to the FIA.

“Overall it just feels that we were not wanted in the sport despite delivering run-flat technology, a Tarmac-specification tyre [which is] fully EEC road homologated, an offer to bring self-sealing, puncture-resistance to the sport, aromatic oil-free tyres and, of course, a level puncture resistance that was unheard of before 2008. We leave the sport with our head held high, having supported the series through some of the most difficult economic conditions ever experienced.”

Pirelli To Use GP2 Car To Test Tyres Before Ban Lifted – Possible Toyota Link Up

Pirelli have confirmed they will do initial testing and development of their 2011 tyres for Formula One using a development chassis obtained from the GP2 Series organisers.

Pirelli, the Italian manufacturer were confirmed as the new sole tyres supplier to Formula One at the start of this week, ending months of speculation.  They now begin work on creating tyres for the series, but cannot put them onto a proper, fully fledged 2010 F1 car to test until after the final Grand Prix due to the testing ban.  With speculation linking the manufacturer to using the still-born Toyota 2010 F1 car, they have come out to confirm that as a future possibility but admitted they are more likely to use a GP2 car.

The rubber company must also provide tyres to GP2, the FIA’s F1 feeder series from 2011.

“There has been a bit of press about [us using the Toyota chassis] but it has probably come from them because they are trying to get someone to use the car maybe…” Paul Hembery, Pirelli’s F1 tyre chief told Autosport.

“No we are going to start with a GP2 car, the new GP2 car.

“Having discussed with the F1 teams the level of performance of the new GP2 car, it’s not so far off as you’ve probably seen. As a test-bed, particularly for integrity reasons, reliability and stability, it’s probably a good starting point.”

“We are talking with the teams, because we want to understand when we do need an F1 car, what we could use that won’t give one team an advantage over another, and will also give us suitable feedback for the work we need to do,” he said.

“The Toyota car often gets mentioned because it is a bespoke car that would have got run this season.

“The negative is that it hasn’t done a full shakedown pre-season in the sense of the other teams, and for us at the moment we have never seen any data as to how reliable it is, costs or anything.

“One extreme comment was that we were going to buy the Toyota F1 team but the reality is we’ve just had a couple of emails saying they are available if we want to discuss it.

“We need a baseline that we can trust so that we can start building information,” he continued. “Maybe we can convince the teams that a three-year-old car, or something like that might be more suitable alternative if they can all agree on which brand it is.

“BMW, for example, might be another excellent choice.”

Team Principals Speak Out On Tyre Situation – Test Time Requested

Some of the top team principals in Formula One have spoken out about the current decision making process over the new tyre manufacturer for Formula One.  Bridgestone, the sole supplier for many season’s contract runs out at the end of 2010 and a new manufacturer needs to be selected.  Pirelli and Michelin are the final two manufacturers in the running for the contract.

Ross Brawn, the principal of Mercedes Benz and former owner of Brawn GP said that he feels the teams need a couple of test sessions with demo tyres from the new manufacturers.

“There has got to be some testing with the new tyre supplier, whoever it is, so I think late summer and early winter there will be some tests organised with the new tyre supplier,” said Brawn.

“But again, we must try and accommodate that within the teams we have. We can’t afford to go out and start rebuilding test teams again.”

Brawn re-itterated the point that the teams want to keep similar technical regulations with regard the tyres, a statement which almost confirms Pirelli not Michelin will be chosen as the Italian manufacturer wanted to stick with the current Bridgestone-spec tyres.

“The teams have together produced a technical specification of the tyre we want,” he said. “So there is a document that we have all contributed to which is a broad spec of the sort of tyre that we want which means there is a single directive to the new tyre supplier of the type of tyre that is needed.

“That means we can continue with the development of our cars. Our cars are being designed around the current tyres because we have no other information.

“So I think everybody wants a tyre to come in that has similar construction characteristics to the current tyre, whether the compounds are quite the same is another matter.”

Ross Brawn - No Messing

Meanwhile Swiss team boss Peter Sauber says he wants a decision sooner rather than later.

“I hope we have a solution before Canada,” Sauber said.

“It is not an easy situation this tyre situation, but it is important we have a tyre supplier for the next season and I think it is important to have a sole supplier tyre.”

Eric Boullier said while his team should theoretically favour the Michelin contract, his team were totally neutral in the decision.

“Let’s say historically Renault could prefer Michelin because they are both French companies, but I don’t think there is a preference for the Renault F1 team,” said Boullier.