Fernando Alonso might have missed out on his goal of a third career crown in the F1 2010 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix finale last weekend, but still the Ferrari star made sure he concluded the campaign on top in one respect, by leading a trio of world champions to the head of the timing screens on the second and final day of the Pirelli tyre test at Yas Marina.
Alonso completed 105 laps of the Middle Eastern circuit for Ferrari – his penultimate appearance 'behind-the-wheel' this year ahead of the Scuderia's
popular annual World Finals event in Valencia next weekend, where he will be joined by team-mate Felipe Massa – and wound up ahead of multiple title-winner Michael Schumacher in the sole Mercedes Grand Prix and the sport's new youngest-ever world champion Sebastian Vettel for Red Bull Racing.
“Overall, it was a positive day,” the Spaniard pronounced. “We had no particular problems with the Pirelli tyres, and we were able to gather a lot of data for their engineers to work on. We are pleased with the way we worked and in how we were able to adapt the set-up of the car to suit the new tyres, especially in terms of the work we can do on the new car in preparation for next season. From what we could see, the switch from Bridgestone to Pirelli should not be a traumatic one.
“Being back on this track after the disappointment of Sunday? It's normal that all of us still feel very disappointed, but that's part of sport. I would think it's the same thing the Dutch football players felt when they lost the World Cup final back in July – then, after a few weeks, they realised they had achieved something, while so many others had not even got anywhere close. The same goes for us; the final victory eluded us, but in any case we had a great season, with a fantastic fight back in the second part of the year – and next year we will try again!”
With the weather remaining hot and sunny in the UAE, Schumacher was just 16 hundredths of a second slower than Alonso on the final timesheets at the end of his 74 laps on-track, with compatriot Vettel another 14 hundredths adrift still following 66 laps.
“Today was my first day of testing for 2011, and I feel that we had an interesting session,” underlined 'Schumi'. “We gathered a lot of data and insights, and have positive feedback from our first impression of the new tyres. I am probably the only driver to have driven with Pirelli tyres before, but it was 20 years ago and I didn't have any certain expectations before today.
“In terms of consistency, it looked quite good but we were using the 2010 car today and it will be all about how these tyres suit our 2011 car. I am already curious to try it out, but at the same time I am looking forward to having a break now. I am sure the guys are too, and they clearly deserve it. I would like to thank all of them for the good job they have done over the season, and I have massively enjoyed working with them.”
“Michael and Nico [Rosberg] have now completed their first days in the car on Pirelli tyres and both have been impressed,” added Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn. “This week's test has been very productive for us, and comes at a time when we can use the information gathered here to fine-tune the detail of our 2011 car and optimise the areas which we believe will be critical.
“Pirelli have done an excellent job to get these tyres to where they are now after such a short period of time, and we are looking forward to working closely with them through the winter test programme at the start of next year.”