Spanish driver Pedro de la Rosa spent four days at the wheel of the Toyota TF109 that has been used to test the Italian rubber since August: two days to run through the entire range of PZero dry tyres and two nights during which he tested the wet and intermediate tyres.
Pirelli’s wet weather test made history, as it was the first time that a Formula One car had been run in wet conditions in the dark. In order to replicate rainy conditions, tankers dampened the 3.1-kilometre north loop of the Yas Marina circuit – the venue for the final Grand Prix of the Formula One calendar – with approximately 140,000 litres of water over two evening sessions that lasted from 1800hrs to midnight. With floodlights covering the length of the track, the Yas Marina circuit boasts the largest bespoke sports lighting facility in the world.
The first wet session was aimed at selecting the wet tyre that will be used by Pirelli during the coming season. Under the intense spotlights used to illuminate the track, de la Rosa completed 13 runs and 119 laps, totalling around 372 kilometres. He completed a similar distance during the second night, but this time focused on testing the intermediate tyre and determining the crossover point, during which it is necessary to make the switch from full wets to intermediates and vice versa.
Throughout the two days of dry running in Abu Dhabi that preceded the wet test, Pirelli completed 1400 kilometres of running, going through all four compounds in the dry tyre range, from supersoft to hard. In total, Pirelli completed more than 2000 kilometres in Abu Dhabi to add to the 1100 kilometres racked up in Bahrain last week. This brings the total testing kilometres accumulated by Pirelli since the first tyres took to the Italian circuit of Mugello in August up to more than 20,000.
De la Rosa, who has been Pirelli’s official tester since October, commented: “In my opinion, Pirelli is ready now for Formula One. The dry tyre test went very well, and confirmed everything we had learned in Bahrain the week before. But the most original part of the test was when we were running at night on the wet tyres, which was as new an experience for me as it was for everyone else. The most important thing was that the water levels were consistent, which allowed us to have some accurate results from the test. At the end of it, we’ve come up with two tyres – wet and intermediate – which I believe are both competitive and stable.”
Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery added: “It’s been an extremely positive test session here in Abu Dhabi, thanks to the fantastic facilities we’ve had available to us and the usual hard work from Pedro and the rest of our team. We’re very proud to have been part of creating a little bit of history by running a Formula One car at night for the first time on wet tyres: we very much believe that Pirelli will be able to contribute to the spectacle of Formula One in the future and seeing the car kicking up huge plumes of spray under the floodlights has certainly been an amazing sight that we will all remember for a long time. While we are well aware that we are new to Formula One and still have plenty to learn, I’m confident that we can approach the start of this year’s official testing next month with a strong package.”
The next test will take place at the Spanish circuit of Valencia from February 1-3 with all the Formula One teams: the first time that they will have sampled Pirelli rubber since the two-day test last November following the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. The teams will then have three more official tests – in Jerez, Barcelona and Bahrain – before the 2011 season starts in March.