F1 Winter Break
Pirelli signs off first test with 11,000kms on the clock
Pirelli signs off first test with 11,000kms on the clock
Posted By: James Allen  |  20 Nov 2010   |  7:21 pm GMT  |  79 comments

The Pirelli tyre test concluded today in Abu Dhabi with a total of 15 drivers on track in 12 cars and Fernando Alonso setting the pace.

Alonso on Pirellis (Ferrari)

In total the F1 teams have done 11,000 kilometres in the last two days, giving Pirelli some very good data to work with on compounds and wear rates. The next time the F1 cars will test will be at the start of February when the first 2011 runners will hit the track on the next iteration of Pirelli tyres.

For detailed analysis of the Pirelli tyres see yesterday’s post, but today Michael Schumacher had his first taste of the tyres and sounded a cautiously optimistic note.

“We gathered a lot of data and insights, and have positive feedback from our first impression of the
new tyres,” he said. “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.”

Schumacher started his F1 career on Pirelli tyres in 1991 on the Benetton, in the days when they were very good qualifying tyres, but not so durable in races. Nelson Piquet gave the tyre marque their last F1 win that year in Montreal (the infamous day when Mansell switched off the Williams on the final lap)

McLaren has run the same drivers all week in both the final Bridgestone test, for young drivers and the Pirelli test. Certainly in Gary Paffett’s case that will have given him a pretty good feel for the difference between the two. Force India did a similar thing with Paul di Resta. And today Sergio Perez had a run in the Sauber on PIrellis, which will have given him a comparative view too.

Pirelli’s Paul Hembery commented, “The comments from the drivers are very encouraging: they especially enjoyed the performance of our front tyre, which is an area that we have worked on considerably. This was one of our objectives, and I’m delighted that we have hit our target. Throughout these two days we’ve tried out the medium and soft compound tyres and we’ve had good results from both of them, particularly in terms of wear rate. During the two days of testing here in Abu Dhabi we’ve racked up nearly 11,000 kilometres with all the teams: that’s more than we have accumulated in three months of private testing.”

Pirelli Tyre Test Day Two, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi
1. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m40.529s 105
2. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1m40.825s 66
3. Rubens Barrichello Williams 1m41.294s 101
4. Robert Kubica Renault 1m41.614s 91
5. Gary Paffett McLaren 1m41.622s 46
6. Oliver Turvey McLaren 1m41.740s 30
7. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m41.757s 74
8. Paul di Resta Force India 1m41.869s 35
9. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 1m42.110s 43
9. Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso 1m42.145s 98
10. Tonio Liuzzi Force India 1m42.416s 47
11. Sergio Perez Sauber 1m42.777s 46
12. Jarno Trulli Lotus 1m44.521s 83
13. Pastor Maldonado Hispania 1m44.768s 65
14. Timo Glock Virgin 1m44.783s 83

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Reading between the lines, do you think Schu is really happy considering how much rides on it?


Next year the cars will be very different. Importantly, the lack of double diffuser will make the back less aero efficient and inevitably push the aero bias forward. Secondly, the lack of F-duct will necessitate lower overall downforce (as it won't be possible to keep it high in the corners and stall the wings on the straights).

The teams have been working on those significant changes for months now and some (notably Mercedes) for much longer.

All that work will help engineers optimise the weight and aero bias on their cars. Schumacher will no doubt hope (or expect) that Mercedes will get it right this year. It is not his fault if they do not.


~ "the lack of F-duct will necessitate lower overall downforce (as it won’t be possible to keep it high in the corners and stall the wings on the straights)." ~

Not true; the teams have always had different rear wings, sometimes a few choices for each circuit, all with different levels of downforce and drag; the f-duct has not really changed the way they set the car up for the corners, just the straights. it would be incorrect to say that it has allowed them to put extra wing on, and loose all that drag on the straights, its not as easy as that, there is still a compromise to be made.


But is is his fault he hasn't been able to match his team mate this year. If he was the driver he was hailed to be he should be able to get the best out of the equipment he was given. But he can't. A bad workman always blames his tools!


A bad workman may blame his tools... but if he has tools that do not work correctly, and the tool maker admits that they are inadequate tools, perhaps the workman is correct in blaming his tools.

If a car handles poorly, why should the driver be blamed? It is a well-known fact that some drivers excel with cars that have specific characteristics, and from year to year you can see drivers that were far behind their teammate suddenly become the dominant driver, all due to the change in handling characteristics. It's not due to a sudden gain or loss in talent.



Did Schumi come second as most sites say (1m40.685) or did he cut a chicane as i read by a poster in one of the F1 forums.


Yea he probably cut it....would not be out of the question for him, remember this is a guy that one a championship by taking out his rival...


Hi james,

in Formula1.com they show schumis time like these:

2. Michael Schumacher, Mercedes GP, 1:40.685, 74

its the unofficial timing, so i take it as this that you show us is the official one. Any info of what happened to this really nice time in the Mercedes?

Thanks for your always accurate and deep analysis. This website will keep our flame alive till the winter break ends and we set eyes in the new cars.


Interesting, the positions here are different to the times posted on the official F1 website. Anybody know what site has the discrepancy?


schumis fastest lap was nullified as he cut the chicane. The time posted here are the official times


Probably I will agree with those people who say that there is nothing positive to expect for next season and that there is every possibility that Pirelli will continue in the route where Bridgestone left. That would be really dissapointing.

Maybe it is too early to judge, but the first signs are that tires will be too consistent and wear rate will be minimal. If it is not the case yet, it will be the case in february.

Of course Pirelli is rather not at fault. It seems that everybody is content with what was going on this year.


Agreed. I would love to change the wear specs to have at least 3 pit stops. Wear degradation "a la" 2010 Montreal


I guess that it would be best if there is some unpredictability. If everyones tires will start to go off at approximately the same time, then it will also not be interesting as everybody will dive into pits at the same time.

It would be interesting if at different races the wear rate for different cars would be different and some wore them out more quickly than others. Also it would help if drivers would need to adapt to different circumstances - one would maybe push and do more stops, other maybe would stay out longer and conserve tires.

I guess it is not easy for tire manufacturer to predict everything how the tires are going to behave, but some excitement would be great.


My proposal should be: different sets of tyres, that actually behave in different manners, i.e., one "real" hard compound that lasts almost all the race giving less grip, and a softer one that gives much better performance for few laps, wearing fastly after let's say 8 or 10 laps.

If we had that, no rule about number of pit stops should be needed. And maybe we could see different strategies such as from no pitstops till two or even three.


Ultimately the issue is that if the tyres are behaving unpredictably or falling off too quickly the tyre manufacturer will receive bad publicity for creating bad tyres! which undermines the whole point of being in F1 as an advertising scheme!


James,¿Has Fernando changed his helm colour from blue to red? Looks like Schumy when he was at Ferrari.


According to InsideFerrari at Twitter: "As Felipe yesterday, Fernando is using a new helmet produced by Schuberth", so I guess they were just checking some new helmets.


Thanks for the info, but I've seen some photos were Felipe's helmet had the same colours as always. Maybe Fernando has started to use a new helmet look profiting this change.


So maybe Massa was testing the new helmet only partly (e.g. only morning or only afternoon session), because I definitely saw a picture of him in the new helmet.

Anyway, I hope they will change the design of the helmets for next year - I quite liked the colourful happy helmet Alonso had this year, the one they used during the tests looked a bit dull in comparison.



the BBC have Schumacher down as second fastest, only 0.156s off Alonso's time.

Who is right?


Ok, the BBC have updated their report now. Schumacher's best time was later disallowed due to him cutting a chicane.

I should not have doubted you!


Interesting stuff, but the line that caught my eye was:

"the infamous day when Mansell switched off the Williams on the final lap"

I read Nigel Mansell's autobiography only a couple of months ago, and he is adamant that it was a car faliure not his mistake. I needn't remind you that you wrote said book!

On behalf of us folk who weren't around in 1991 to watch that race and judge for ourselves, could you please explain your honest opinion over who was to blame?


If it's Mansell's "autobiography" then how could James have written it?


Is that a new helmet on alonso's head I see today


Yep, both Felipe and Fernando are using brand new helmets.

Ferrari twitted about it this evening. You can also see a picture on the Ferrari site:



James, do you know Mansell switched off the Williams at the hairpin for sure? That's quite a bold statement considering he has always publicly denied it.


The words in Autocourse (which had six months to get some idea of the story, noting that Williams probably wanted to cotton-wool Nigel's ego as he was still driving for themin 1992) were:

"Precisely what happened next is not clear but the following facts are certain.

Mansell was waving to the crowd; the engine revs dropped dramatically; when Nigel went to select a lower gear, the semi-automatic box baulked momentarily and found neutral instead and, at that very moment, the engine revs were so low tha the V10 cut out. Make of that what you will."

Another section adds "there was insufficient electrical charge left in the system to enable the hydraulic engagement of a gear so he was unable to bump start the engine back to life. He was slassified sixth, losing nine of his ten possible points with this last lap error".

The suggestion seems to be that Mansell took the engine out of its operating range by driving too slowly. He didn't turn it off but created a situation where the engine and gearbox were at risk of stopping and they did.


Interesting. So there could be an element of driver error involved afterall. Still doesn't look like he simply switched it off whilst waving.

That faultering gearbox cost him the title in 1991 via losing a shead load of points e.g. 2nd place Brazil, Canada Win and Spa Win. Coupled with the lost win Portugal (in the pitlane) he should have won that title comfortably.

At least he put it right in 92!


Patrick Head during free practice in canada this year confirmed the voltage reason. The revs dropped too low, so the voltage went and the power to change gear was lost, and having been in sixth gear the car stalled at the hairpin.


Regardless of a new tyre provider , new regulations , new upgrades.

The best drivers will adapt and so there will be no change in the pecking order .


Possibly. There is a common suggestion that Schumacher couldn't get the best of the Bridgestones in slow corners (you could try to argue he is not great with some justification, but 7 WCs and 91 wins are hard to argue with). Ross Brawn has said that it is clear in medium and high speed corners that the talent is still there. Massa has had problems with this year's wider front tyre. Kimi had problems with the tyres in 2008. The slick Bridgestones brought Heidfeld much closer to Kubica, even ahead at times. It depends on your interpretation of great. If they aren't great, they did get to the top for a period. I suspect Hamilton will be fine, as will Alonso and Vettel. Button, Webber, Rosberg, Massa and Kubica will be a wait and see for me.


Excellent to see how much mileage they have covered. Only 1 major problem in sebs tire failure.

On another topic, not sure whether you've been reading Tony Fernandes twitter entries the last couple of days, but he didn't sound to me like a man willingly going to back out on the naming front. Sounded more like he is up for the fight....

I can't wait for the new season cars to come out now 🙂 im betting there will be a lot of pullrod suspension next season.


As far as I am concerned, I think that Fernandez will loose the Lotus name next year. If he's applying the pressure it's in order to get more money for letting the "team lotus" brand.

I am saying that because Renault will have its name in F1 next year but the team which bears that name needs money to work and that money should come from Proton. Unless Genii has a back up plan which looks unlikely given their financial struggles recently. So Renault needs Proton and Proton won't commit unless the Lotus name is added to the Renault team.

Renault has a deal with Tony Fernandes for engines next year. I don't see how they can deliver his team the engine without covering their situation for next year.

Last but not least, the Malaysian government is involved in the Proton group. I don't see them letting Tony Fernandez get away with it.

In my opinion, Tony Fernandez is only pressuring them for more money, that's it.

An interesting statement from Mike Gascogne in Autosport.com today. He said that Lotus (Proton) is planning to race in indy car, GT2, GT3 and LMP2 and that he was perplexed by it. If he's right, I don't see the relevance of their racing strategy. How come they have so much money to afford participating in so many series while their company isn't even profitable right now.


I agree. A change of tone, also there is the stuff on the Save Team Lotus website which seems pretty punchy.


Has to be said this isn't the first time David hunt has defended the naming position against the group.

I remember reading about their London bridge moment, when they realised the lotus the had bought did not own the f1 team.

Will this ever end,...,

I imagine the lotus purchase of Renault team hinges on this too?


Wait until they realise that it's not actually Renault either, but Genii.


James I have sneaky suspicion that the " Powers That Be" have ensured that Pirelli produce a strong front end tyre to make sure Schumacher is out at the front battling it one last time? What better way to bow out than slugging it out with the young guns one final time? It would make for a great show and a fitting end to a 7 times legend.


You can't really make that out over these two days. Rosberg's time was only a tenth slower than Schumacher, once we remove the lap where Schumi cut the chicane.

While it's true that Schumi has better things to say about the new tires than Rosberg, we'll have to wait till February to see just how well the new tires suit them both.


What better way? Would sum up Schumacher's quite nicely though.


I really hope the pirelli tyres suit Schumacher's driving style and the car so he is back on top next year. It would be great for Mercedes to compete on a par with Ferrari, McLaren & Red Bull. I'm intrigued by Alonso's new colour helmet for this test. Is he trying to channel the success of his predecessor's? Afterall, Kimi won the drivers championship at his first attempt with Ferrari with a red (and black and white) design. And Michael's helmet, if I remember correctly, seemed to become more prominently red for the 2000 season onwards.


That's because Michael was using a blue, red and white colour scheme before 2000. It looked a bit like Barrichello's current helmet.


I don't understand how Schumi was a second faster than Rosberg on the same tyres? Does this mean that we will see him back at the front next year or is it too early to say?


he wasn't really ...missing a chicane improves your time


Thanks for that information lebesset, I didn't know that he missed a chicane.


I get the impression that Vettel was sandbagging. I really do not think that considering the significant advantage the Red Bull has over the rest of the field (as displayed last week) that putting on a different brand of tyre would negate that advantage. Is there any particular reason why the pace in general was slower during day 2, logic would dictate that the track would get faster the more Pirelli rubber is laid down?


Maybe I'm just a little bit paranoid, but should we be reading anything into the fact that Red Bull used Vettel for both test days, despite the fact that Webber has much more experience at testing and seems to be acknowledged as giving very good feedback and analysis.

I mean it could be that Mark just needs some time off after the disappointment of losing the title, but most of the major teams (except Mclaren) seem to have given each of their drivers a day of testing. Williams and Renault both used just one driver for the whole test and both of those teams have yet to 100% confirm their driver lineup for next year...


I was suspicious as well - some websites claim webber is missing the test due to a scheduled surgery, presumably to have pins removed. Not sure how credible the source is.


Webber himself declined the tests, in an interview he said he just wanted to go home and be with his family and dogs, recharge, end quote.


James, a fascinating update as normal.

It will be interesting to see how the tyres develop over the next couple of months, and if as a result of this test, the teams have to make any adaptations to development towards 2011.

I would like to ask why were a few drivers wearing different helmets? Have there been recent updates in helmet technology? And if so what are they?


Surely Schumacer was second fastest not 7th


He was, but his time was erased for cutting a chicane.


Seems someone was in a extreme hurry to compile a report.

In the tests completed today,Michael was the second fastest


Extremely sorry James.

I just saw the other reports.My previous comment was after I saw the formula1.com report.

Sorry again


James, do you know how different are the tyres used today to the ones thay will be using on February in Spain? And after those tests on February, will they still develop the tyres before the season starts? (e.g. to adapt to wet conditions, as long as they have not been tested on wet track)

Off topic: I've read on Spanish papers that the Ferraris are testing some parts for 2011 car. Is this legal?


It's a test... they could put a turbo on the car and it wouldn't matter!

Beyond a few runs to get a baseline comparison against the Bridgestones, why would you spend a lot of time working on setting up your 2010 car when you could be working on systems for your 2011 car? Maybe try a new floor with no double-diffuser...?


Interesting that MSC and Rosberg set basically the same fastest time.


Drivers were testing new helmets.

That is why Alonso's had a different livery. Massa's as well.


I guess Alonso will add some red/yellow (as in the Spanish Flag); something related with Asturias (that yellow cross -"Cruz de la Victoria"- on a blue background); and two aces, representing his two WDC.

Don't know if there will be enough room for all that items! 🙂


Felipe wore the same red helmet on Friday. I think its nothing more than testing a new helmet design from Schuberth for next year.


Schumacher did cut the chicane so his best time wasn't counted. And his second best time was P7.

Alonso and Massa were testing new Schubert helmets. I suppose they will both have new designs for the new season then.

Instead of pesterting Mr. Allen with questions how about trying google or follow the live timing/approbiate twitters. Its not so hard.

The teams have been testing. No-one was doing qualifying laps. While Rosberg said those tyres seem to be a bit slower then the Bridgestones, it has not been the final version of the Pirelli tyres. I think we will only see the final version at the first tests in February.


All I can say is that the following things make 2011 season encouraging after a gutting 2010 championship (ofcourse, being a permanent Ferrari fan, I'm likely to logical for me to feel this way):

1. Michael Schumacher comfortable on Pirellis (even though he is driving for Mercedes, we the Ferrari fans will always look at Schuey as a Ferrari driver and a part of us. Unless next year he does Petrov on our drivers, which I'm sure he won't for he still is a part of our Ferrari Pedigree) 🙂

2. Massa was quicker than Alonso over a single lap, which sorts out the fact that it was the tires that he was struggling with and not his post Hungary Accident Form.

3. Alonso is ofcourse being Alonso but with a Vengence and with his statement "...cos We Are Ferrari" is a clear indication that he has finally got the team for himself by winning their hearts (and ours) by scintillating drives in 2010. After Mclaren betrayal, he is finally home so you can expect him extend a step further since the 2011 Ferrari Challenger will be built around him.



1.) petrov did what he was paid to do, which is drive for Renault. Alonso would still have had to pass others ....

2.) I hope felippe has a good season next season as he is one of the good guys. I'm still not convinced he will want to stay at Ferrari (depending on possible moves elsewhere).

3.) the mclaren betrayal, very similar to the Massa situation in my book. Massa was very quick over a number of years prior to alonso coming to Ferrari.

I didn't like the way alonso was treated at mclaren, or mark at redbull but sometimes this happens.

While the drivers all drive for the team, it I'd understandable if they become demotivated if they feel they are not being supported.

Still, gives us all something to talk about until February doesn't it 😉


Maldonado going well again. I'd always thought his performances in GP2 were flattering his ability, due to his financial backing, but it looks like he might be genuinely quite useful. Not quite the prospect Hulkenberg is, but Williams' willingness to compromise is starting to make more sense.


Massa is, I think, the only driver whose time on Pirelli tyres was better than his GP time on Bridgestone tyres. And he actually matches Alonso times in the test (I know, his time was better than Alonso's but he tested on the first day, when all the times were better by about 0.3 s and none of the drivers testing on both days could actually match their previous times on the second day, so I guess it means that Massa and Alonso would be more or less on par - a very simplified conclusion, I know).

Does it mean that he was really struggling that much with Bridgestone tyres or he just didn't care at the end of the season and didn't really do his best, while now he wants to prove that he can match Alonso?


Which engines were the teams using for the tests this week, as I assume the 8 engines used during the season wouldn't be suitable to be used again?


Is that a pitot tube on Alonso's car? The last time we saw one of those, McLaren were testing the air flow through the back-end of their F-Duct system. What are Ferrari up to now, since F-Ducts have been banned for next year and all?


I hope these new tyres suit Schumi's driving style.



I really want to read a post from you on the Williams team. The last piece of news is that they will use battery KERS instead of their home made FlyWheel KERS.

It's for packaging and centre of gravity reasons, at least that's how Patrick Head put it.

Everytime one gets news from Williams, it's bad news.


James could you maybe do an article over the winter about Herman Tilke and his monopoly on new f1 venues please. i find it really annoying that he designs these circuits that are bad for over taking.

Kind regards


James can you confirm that teams added extra ballist to replicate next years new weight. i read that Lotus did but didnt hear about any other team?


Wow a lot of people jumping to conclusions already. It was not a form guide guys. It was a test and the cars will be totally different in Feb.

I am also one of those who want to see good old Schumi but realistically I think he will be on par with Rosberg in terms of qualifying and race pace. And its not a bad thing because Rosberg may be on par guys like Vettel.

But then, if Mercedes produce a contender, he and Rosberg will be fighting for the title.


I rate Rosberg very high after this year. I put him up there as one of the best drivers this year.


I can't help but feel a little let down if Pirelli make their tyres more durable. The best race of this year was Canada, a race where tyres went off very quickly. I would be very disappointed if the drivers complained about the tyres being less durable. They do want exciting racing and passing, I can't help but think less duable tyres would only help that?


In 1991 Pirelli went down the durability route. I remember Piquet/Moreno trying to go through every race without stopping.

Obviously that was 20 years though and they will probably now have a completely different philosophy. I hope so!!


pirelli have already said they will listen to what the teams want ; if they want tyres like 2010 , that's easy , but if they want more aggressive tyres that will be more tricky to get the compounds correct

construction is now set for 2011 according to pirelli statements


are the fronts the same size as last year.? remember they made them narrower than the year before.


It is interesting to read all of the Driver comments on the performance of the tires,most Drivers seem impressed with this tyre,I wonder whether this tyre will in fact suite Schumacher's style of driving, most articles seem to suggest that he is cautiosly optimistic about this tyre being the answer to his problems maybe its because he tested the tyres on the 2010 Spec Merc.James are you able to tell us how his Sector times on the Pirelli tyres compares to his Sectors times in Qualifying(Abu Dhabi-Final Race) on the Bridgestone tyres.Is there a difference?


I have the sector times, but the conditions were so different with track improvement etc that it's pretty meaningless to compare

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