The Pirelli Test

With the end of the 61st season we bid farewell to the fly-away; getting up at 5am to watch qualifying and wishing we were there (unless you were, and if so I’m extremely jealous!). We also said so long to Bridgestone.

Bridgestone has been the sole tire supplier since 2007 after Michelin pulled out. Deciding not to renew their contract after their current one expired; their PR team was quick to mention it was not entirely due to the economic climate. Bridgestone has been supplying the sport with tires since 1997; but with their factories in Australia and New Zealand closing down, it certainly fuelled the rumours.

So we flew from Japan to Italy as Pirelli have signed a 3 year supply contract as the sole supplier; their last appearance in F1 was all the way back in 1991.  This change afforded us addicts with 2 extra days of racing; well technically it’s testing, but we can skim over that…

The testing sessions are open to all teams; they can either use it as a further experience for their test driver as demonstrated by McLaren’s Gary Paffett. It can also be utilised by future drivers; Pastor Maldonado, although testing for Hispania, has been strongly linked to Williams.

Some notable absences from both testing days are the McLaren boys, Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button, and Red Bull’s Mark Webber. McLaren were outright with their explanation saying that there was not much to learn from the tires as this early stage. Good point as the chances of these tires being the final compounds is pretty slim. Mark Weber is apparently scheduled for a spot of surgery on the remaining metalwork left in his leg.

Below are the results from the first day of testing.

Pos. Driver Team Fastest Lap
1 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:40.170
2 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:40.500
3 Gary Paffett McLaren 1:40.874
4 Kamui Kobayashi BMW Sauber 1:40.950
5 Robert Kubica Renault 1:41.032
6 Rubens Barrichello Williams 1:41.425
7 Paul di Resta Force India 1:41.615
8 Nico Rosberg Mercedes GP 1:41.778
9 Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso 1:42.019
10 Adrian Sutil Force India 1:42.859
11 Timo Glock Virgin 1:44.124
12 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus 1:44.686
13 Pastor Maldonado HRT 1:45.728

The general feedback was good from all the drivers; so far so good for Pirelli on their first day back to F1. Now I’m not one for conspiracy theories; but notice who’s at the top here…a Ferrari on top with Italian tires…are we going to see a return to form next year?

And now for day two.

Pos. Driver Team Fastest Lap
1 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:40.529
2 Michael Schumacher Mercedes GP 1:40.685
3 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:40.825
4 Rubens Barrichello Williams 1:41.294
5 Robert Kubica Renault 1:41.614
6 Gary Paffett McLaren 1:41.622
7 Oliver Turvey McLaren 1:41.740
8 Paul di Resta Force India 1:41.869
9 Kamui Kobayashi BMW Sauber 1:42.110
10 Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso 1:42.145
11 Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India 1:42.416
12 Sergio Perez BMW Sauber 1:42.777
13 Jarno Trulli Lotus 1:44.521
14 Pastor Maldonado Hispania 1:44.768
15 Timo Glock Virgin 1:44.783

Ferrari on top once again. That’s a strong showing after a season plagued with team orders; reliability issues; and losing to a 6-year-old team. But who can care about that when Michael Schumacher crept into second place. Throughout the 2010 season he complained about being uncomfortable on the Bridgestones; could he be proved right?

More gossip to come of course! It shouldn’t be long until we start hearing who has got a confirmed seat for the 2011 seasons. It’s doubtful that there will be a seat going in the top teams; although for all of the bluster surrounding Maldonado…he’s yet to have that place at Williams secured.

Later rookies!

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