Following on from the first official test of the year in Valencia, the Formula One teams again had the chance to sample the full range of Pirelli tyres on a circuit with quite different characteristics, which last hosted a Grand Prix in 1997. There was a wide range of temperatures experienced and a sudden burst of rain only during the last 10 minutes of the final day, meaning that the teams focussed on the dry compounds that they had previously selected to test.
With some teams only running their 2011 cars and drivers for the first time, and others concentrating on understanding the new technical regulations, a number of different programmes were being carried out by all the squads. Most of the principal tyre work was carried out by the teams over the last two days of the four-day session, providing a wide range of results as the teams got to know their new cars better.
The characteristics of the Jerez circuit, which contains a wide variety of medium to high-speed corners, meant that the supersoft tyres saw very little action with the teams instead mostly looking at the soft, medium and hard compounds. Many of them were trying longer runs and race simulations for the first time as they expanded their development programmes.
Over the four days, four different driver and car combinations set the fastest time, underlining the adaptability of Pirelli’s PZero covers to a wide variety of different machinery. Such is the pace of development in Formula One, that on average the top times were more than three seconds faster than the times set by Pirelli during initial private tests at Jerez with the Toyota TF109 last September.
Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery said: “We’ve accumulated a huge amount of data, which we will now be analysing closely before the next test in just a few day’s time in Barcelona. Unfortunately there were several red flags over the four days here due to cars going off and other non-tyre related incidents, which meant that there were quite a few teams that did not manage to complete the full programmes that they anticipated. That affected us to some extent too but from our general point of view, we enjoyed perfect reliability once more and saw some longer runs than we had seen previously at Valencia. From what we learned from those so far, we believe that we’re still on course to see two pit stops per race, which obviously might be one stop on some circuits and three stops on others, depending on the individual cars and track characteristics. A number of drivers have mentioned to me that our tyres are going to be great fun to race with, which is exactly what we are aiming for.”
All 12 Formula One teams will now head to Barcelona for the final European group test of the season, which will take place on the Circuit de Catalunya. Unlike Jerez, it is a venue that all the teams are extremely familiar with, being a favoured venue for testing and also the home of the Spanish Grand Prix. Pirelli will bring a modified version of the supersoft and soft tyres, in response to feedback from the teams following the first official tests, featuring the latest evolutions of the PZero rubber.