Preparations for the 2011 season with new Formula One tyre supplier Pirelli got underway at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi today with Nico Rosberg as the first of the MERCEDES GP PETRONAS drivers to evaluate the new tyres.
Nico's programme for today was to complete an initial performance evaluation to various set-up parameters with the two tyre compounds provided by Pirelli, the medium and soft, which was successfully completed over 81 laps.
Michael Schumacher will drive tomorrow for the second and final day of the test.
Nico Rosberg: "As a team, and particularly the engineers, we did a really good job to be well prepared for this week's Pirelli test with the work back at the factory and the support here at the track proving invaluable. That really helps once you get the tyres on and we were able to focus precisely on the set-up direction and have found various improvements. It's a good start however there is obviously still some way to go before we get the best out of the tyres."
Ross Brawn: "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 watched today's proceedings with great interest and is looking forward to experiencing the tyres for himself tomorrow."
TIMES (All timings are unofficial)
1. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:40.170 (94)
2. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:40.500 (78)
3. Gary Paffett McLaren 1:40.874 (94)
4. Kamui Kobayashi 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 PETRONAS 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)