Ferrari's Felipe Massa has heralded a 'positive' first day of running on Pirelli tyres in Abu Dhabi today (Friday), with the Italian company making an official return to F1 almost two decades on from its last appearance in the top flight as it gears up to supply the entire field with rubber in 2010.

On a perfect if demanding day for testing with hot weather and sunny skies, Massa wound up quickest of the 13 drivers in action around the Yas Marina Street Circuit, completing 94 laps as he stole newly-crowned F1 2010 World Champion Sebastian Vettel's thunder by pipping the German to the top of the timing screens by a third of a second.

"It was a positive start to begin to understand the behaviour of the Pirelli tyres," remarked the Brazilian, who will hand over to team-mate Fernando Alonso for day two. "I felt at ease right from the start, and there were no unpleasant surprises.

"We tried two different types and acquired a lot of data which will be useful for Pirelli to develop the tyres still further for the start of the 2011 season. On the hards, there were some difficulties over a long run while the softs worked well both on the very first lap and also after they had done a larger number of laps."

"I wish to take this opportunity to welcome back Pirelli to F1," added the Scuderia's team principal Stefano Domenicali. "It is nice to see two symbols of Italian excellence together on track. I am sure that Pirelli will make a very important contribution to our sport in terms of professionalism and technical research."

"It was all about the tyres today, as this was the first chance we have had to try them out and work with them to develop the car's set-up for next year," concurred Red Bull Racing star Vettel, back at the scene of his history-making title triumph in the Middle East just five days earlier. "I think the tyres behaved well - better than expected given the short amount of time Pirelli have had and they've done a good job. Pirelli are obviously in the middle of their development and what we used today is not what we will race with, but it was a good start.

"It was great to be back in the car after an incredible week; I went to Salzburg on Monday morning for a TV show and press conference, and then to the UK to say thanks to the team in Milton Keynes - that was quite emotional. It's nice for me and the team to be able to enjoy our success, but 2011 started today and I was focussing on the tyres and getting to know them - I think we have learned quite a lot."

Gary Paffett placed third for McLaren-Mercedes, the team's loyal long-time test driver likewise expressing himself satisfied with progress after 94 laps and reporting a basic balance and performance from the MP4-25 not dissimilar to that produced when on Bridgestone rubber. Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi wound up just behind Paffett in fourth.

"I think the tyres from Pirelli are well-made," underlined the Japanese ace. "We tested how to work with these new tyres and how we need to further develop our car for them, learning in which way they are different to what we were used to running. The tyres were quite consistent. Only in the morning I struggled with tyre wear, but after we made some set-up changes this wasn't an issue any longer. It was a very interesting test for us."

"It was a very productive day," concurred the Hinwil-based outfit's technical director, James Key. "The baseline set-up was not too far away to begin with, and we made a few changes and found a reasonable balance for the car fairly early.

"We ran our programme as planned, with shorter runs to conserve tyres and consistency and a longer run in the end. We feel we learned a lot about the way the Pirelli tyres are behaving and responding to different set-up changes. We have to hand it to Pirelli - the tyres are already on a good level, and we feel it was a very positive day."

Fifth-fastest was Renault's sole confirmed F1 2011 driver Robert Kubica, though the Pole's running was limited to just 39 laps due to reliability woes - whilst Williams' ultra-experienced veteran Rubens Barrichello ended proceedings four tenths further behind in sixth, the Brazilian concentrating his efforts on aerodynamic testing, baseline runs and tyre evaluations.

"It's always interesting to test new tyres," affirmed Kubica, "and today was our first chance to try the new Pirellis and work with the new tyre engineers. We all know how important the tyres are for the behaviour of the car, so we concentrated on evaluating both compounds and understanding as much as we could about the tyre characteristics.

"Although we didn't do a massive number of laps, we have still learned a few things and it feels good to have begun our relationship with Pirelli. Because we stopped early, we have saved some of the tyres for tomorrow, so it will be a busy day as we continue learning."

"We had our first taste of Pirelli tyres today and were able to run both the medium and soft compounds," added Renault F1 chief engineer Alan Permane. "The morning went well and Robert was reasonably happy with the car balance, although we made a few changes during the day to improve it.

"Our initial impression of the tyres has been positive - they were working well with good grip and no warm-up issues. Unfortunately, we had to stop early because we had a mechanical issue with the car and we preferred to save the tyres for tomorrow when we've rectified the problem."

"We've had a busy schedule today with plenty of work to do," reported Barrichello, like Kubica, yet to discover the identity of his team-mate next season. "This morning we evaluated aero set-up, before going for performance runs in the afternoon. This was our first session with the Pirelli tyres and I found it quite interesting. My initial impressions are positive, and I look forward to working with them again tomorrow.

"We completed more aero testing this morning and have collated some useful data," echoed the Grove-based concern's senior test engineer, Tom McCullough. "We then started our evaluations of the Pirelli tyres. We tested both the medium and soft compounds and have learnt a lot about their different characteristics. They performed well so, overall, we've had a very positive first day with Pirelli.

Prospective 2011 Force India F1 team-mates Paul di Resta and Adrian Sutil in seventh and tenth positions respectively sandwiched Mercedes Grand Prix star Nico Rosberg in eighth and Scuderia Toro Rosso's Jaime Alguersuari in ninth. The German successfully completed an initial performance evaluation of the two tyre compounds on offer, whilst the Spaniard examined tyre behaviour over both long and short runs.

"As a team, and particularly the engineers, we did a really good job to be well-prepared for this week's Pirelli test, with the work back at the factory and the support here at the track proving invaluable," stated Rosberg, who will relinquish the steering wheel to team-mate and compatriot Michael Schumacher on day two.

"That really helps once you get the tyres on, and we were able to focus precisely on the set-up direction and have found various improvements. It's a good start, however there is obviously still some way to go before we get the best out of the tyres."

"Today has been very important for the team to start building our relationship with Pirelli," agreed Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn. "Whilst a lot of details remain to be understood, we feel that we have gained an initial understanding of the operational requirements of the two compounds that we have, and have highlighted some important areas for investigation and improvement.

"We have been lucky to have been able to get exposure to the Pirelli tyres at a track with which we are now very familiar, and in conditions that we will not experience again until the final test of the season in Bahrain. Michael watched today's proceedings with great interest, and is looking forward to experiencing the tyres for himself tomorrow."

"It was a useful experience for me to run on these new tyres," acknowledged Alguersuari. "We did a good mileage, some runs on heavy fuel and some with less and it was interesting to see how the tyres behaved. It is too early to say more than that, because of course there will be more development to come from Pirelli before the next season starts."

"From the car side, we had a trouble-free day," added STR chief engineer, Laurent Mekies. "Track conditions are now very different to those over the race weekend, partly because of the two days of running during the young driver test. The day went well and we are now preparing for the second day of running with Pirelli, when S?bastien Buemi will take over at the wheel."

Bringing up the rear of the order, perhaps unsurprisingly, were the three F1 2010 newcomers, with Timo Glock leading the way for Virgin Racing in eleventh place, followed by Lotus Racing ace Heikki Kovalainen and pastor Maldonado, back in the Hispania F110 as he had been during the special young driver test on Tuesday.

"It's good to welcome Pirelli back into our sport," underlined Kovalainen. "We had a good day on-track, completing the whole programme and the balance of the car felt very comfortable all day. Honestly, I would like to drive the car again tomorrow, but now we have a long break until testing starts again in a couple of months - and I can't wait to get back in the car next year!"

"An interesting and very useful first day of testing with Pirelli," agreed Lotus chief technical officer Mike Gascoyne. "We had no mechanical issues on the car, and managed to complete our full programme in 88 laps. The car was ballasted up to the 2011 weight limit for the day, and we ran a series of fundamental tests within the parameters we could change with the tyres.

"In the afternoon, we found some clear and useful set-up directions for the engineers to work on. We set our quickest lap of the day at the end of the session on a pretty worn set, and all of the data gives us very useful information that we will carry over to tomorrow when Jarno [Trulli] is back in the car for his first taste of the new Pirelli tyres."

"I enjoyed being back in the HRT F110 and getting more experience in an F1 car," confessed reigning GP2 Series Champion Maldonado, hotly-tipped to join Barrichello at Williams next year. "We fulfilled our complete testing programme in order to get as much data as possible from the new Pirelli tyres.

"I have now driven with both tyre-suppliers, Bridgestone and Pirelli, and what I learnt out of it was that they are very different in their characteristics. Now we are going to analyse today's data and get ready to keep on learning about the tyres at the last day of testing tomorrow."

"With an air temperature of around 30?C and a track of 44?C, today's conditions were ideal for testing the new Pirelli tyres for the first time," remarked Hispania team principal Dr. Colin Kolles. "We have worked very hard, and we were one of the teams who did a large number of laps.

"The target of the testing programme today was to get as much data about the new tyres as possible, and we fulfilled it completely. Firstly, Pastor had to get used to the new tyres, which are also new to us. After his settling-in period, he felt more comfortable and could give us more information about the new tyres so that we could learn about them and keep on improving."

Each team benefitted from four sets of rubber in soft and medium compounds - as well as the support and advice of a dedicated Pirelli engineer and the manufacturer's tyre technicians - and the company's official tester Pedro de la Rosa was also present to speak to his fellow drivers to gauge their first impressions.

Following a final briefing between Pirelli and the teams to share information and focus more closely on some of the data that had been obtained, the Milan-based marque's motorsport director Paul Hembery professed himself 'encouraged' with what he had seen and heard, and also with the amount of running on the tyres that had been completed in total.

"We're very pleased with this first day of testing and the excellent working relationship that has been struck up between our engineers and all the teams and drivers," revealed the Englishman. "We're gathering plenty of useful information and valuable suggestions, as well as some encouraging comments and some promising results.

"So far, I would say that everything has gone according to-plan. In particular, we are very pleased with the reliability and stability of our tyres - teams have appreciated their consistent performance - as well as the turn-in performance of the front tyre.

"The lap times set by all the teams have been excellent, and they have each covered a lot of ground as can be seen from the number of laps run. The teams are also making the most of these test sessions to try out different set-ups and some new ideas for 2011, which provides us with an even greater challenge and more meaningful results. I would say that we are in a strong position now to approach the first official tests in February 2011 with a good package."

To see the testing times, click here



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