Pirelli's first official test as exclusive supplier to the F1 world championship concluded successfully in Valencia on Thursday [3 February], with the teams getting a first taste of how the Italian rubber will work on their new cars and a clear idea of how Pirelli tyres could spice up the show.
Pirelli brought all four slick tyre compounds to the Circuit Ricardo Tormo – supersoft, soft, medium and hard – but, with cold conditions under 10 degrees centigrade in the morning, and only warming up to around 18 degrees in the afternoon, most of the teams elected just to use the three softest compounds. Both the intermediate and wet tyres were also taken to the test after weather forecasts earlier in the week predicted rain, but conditions remained dry during all three days of the test, meaning that the wet weather tyres were hardly used.
With a number of new cars being launched in Valencia, the teams concentrated on initial shakedown runs to get used to all this year's innovations but, for the first time, the twelve outfits also had the chance to work with the Pirelli tyre engineers assigned to them for the rest of the season and try out a wider range of the Italian tyres. Many of the teams also ran new drivers for the first time, making the three days of the Valencia test a steep learning curve for all concerned.
Although the cold conditions and tight layout of Valencia's permanent circuit – which is mostly used for motorbike racing – will not be representative of the rest of the season, drivers had a valuable opportunity to gather their initial impressions of the Pirelli rubber. They all agreed that knowing how to manage the tyres would be a key to success in the 2011 season and that the characteristics of Pirelli's new tyres could make for some even more exciting races during the coming year.
"First and foremost, we've enjoyed perfect reliability over the three days, which has enabled the teams to get on with their test programmes at a crucial time of year as they launch their new cars," Pirelli's motorsport director Paul Hembery commented, "Naturally, they've all been running a very wide range of different configurations and set-ups here, so there's no point looking too closely at the times.
"What's more important is that the feedback we've received from the drivers and teams so far has been very positive, and it's been a great pleasure to work with them all. It's early days, but we believe that the teams have started to see now that our tyres are quite different to what they had before. In line with our brief, it's no longer going to be possible to run virtually an entire race on one set of tyres, so I think everyone will appreciate how our PZeros can help to provide even more exciting races in the future."