Pirelli enjoyed another faultless four days of testing at Jerez de la Frontera, despite admitting that the frequent red flag periods had hampered the process of accumulating further development data.
Following on from the first official test of the year in Valencia, the twelve F1 teams again had the chance to sample the full range of Pirelli tyres at a venue with quite different characteristics to the Circuit Ricardo Tormo. With a wide range of temperatures experienced over the four days, and only a sudden burst of rain only during the last ten minutes of the final day, the teams focused on the dry compounds that they had previously selected to test.
As some teams were only running their 2011 cars and drivers for the first time, and others concentrated on understanding the new technical regulations, a number of different programmes were carried out, with most of the principal tyre work carried out over the last two days, 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 the PZero covers to a wide variety of different machinery, and the pace of development was clear to see as, 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.
“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," motorsport director Paul Hembery confirmed, "Unfortunately, there were several red flags over the four days, 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."
While Michael Schumacher was notably critical of the lack of grip he felt on the tyres in Valencia, Hembery reports that the majority of comments about the tyres had been more positive.
"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,” he smiled.
All twelve teams will now head to Barcelona for the final European group test of the season, where Pirelli will provide a modified version of the supersoft and soft tyres in response to feedback from the first official sessions.