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The Formula 1 World Championship is warming up its engines at Jerez, Spain, where the teams are taking part in a test session from 7-10 February, trying out the new Pirelli tyres. Each car will have available to it the soft, medium and hard variants, as well as wet weather and slick tyres.
In the improbable eventuality of rain at Jerez over the next few days, drivers will also be able to count on the return of the historic Cinturato.
The teams have available to them a maximum of 100 sets of tyres for the tests and can, as part of that quantity, choose which tread compounds to adopt during the four days.
This will be the session when drivers will try out the ‘squarer’ profiles which, as announced in Abu Dhabi, will ensure extremely high performance and last longer but without renouncing spectacle. The Jerez circuit has many variants, especially ample fast and slow corners, enabling the teams to sample their tyres in the various driving conditions.
The new Pirelli P Zero Silver, the first road car tyre derived from Formula 1 technology, will be presented at Jerez simultaneously.
The new Pirelli P Zero Yellow soft compound seen in competition for the first time today will be combined with a new profile for 2012 to form the basis of next year’s medium tyres, now that the current season is over. All of the slick tyres apart from the supersoft compound will be brand new next year, making their debut at the first official test of 2012 next February in Spain.
With the anticipated threat of rain eventually holding off, Red Bull Racing’s Mark Webber claimed his first win of a remarkable debut season for Pirelli at the final grand prix, using the new P Zero Yellow soft tyres and the P Zero White medium tyres.
Webber took the lead on lap 29, after his team mate Sebastian Vettel lost time with a gearbox problem, having led from pole. Webber adopted a three-stop strategy, using three sets of soft tyres and one set of medium tyres to win the race by 16.9 seconds from his team mate. It was Webber’s seventh career victory, securing him third place in the final championship standings.
A few isolated raindrops fell on the Interlagos paddock about an hour before the race started, but the grand prix got underway in dry conditions and temperatures of around 24 degrees. All 24 cars started on the P Zero Yellow soft tyres, giving them greater flexibility in their strategies in case of rain – which never materialised.
McLaren’s Jenson Button was the first driver to switch to the medium tyre on lap 31, using a different strategy to his team mate Lewis Hamilton. The top four runners all adopted a three-stop strategy, with Ferrari driver Felipe Massa the highest-placed two-stopper in fifth, having run two stints on the soft tyre and one final stint on the medium.
Button was the only driver to use the P Zero White medium for two stints, making his last stop on lap 52. The Englishman was able to push hard during his final stint, as he chased a top-three finish, which he claimed with nine laps to go: his eighth podium in nine races that cemented his runner-up place in the drivers’ championship.
The fastest lap of the race was also set on the P Zero White medium tyre, by Mark Webber on the very final lap. It was Webber’s eighth fastest lap this year on Pirelli tyres.
Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery commented: “This didn’t turn out to be the race that most people expected, with the predicted rain holding off. At the last race of the season there were a few mechanical issues for some cars, but our tyres were completely reliable – as they have been all year, with no structural failures – and we achieved our objective of having a performance gap of less than a second between the compounds, which should be the case next year as well. It’s been a season that has, if anything, exceeded our expectations – where we’ve seen the most overtaking in the history of the Formula One World Championship – and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all of our team in Milan, Didcot and Izmit for their extraordinary work this season. They should all be proud of their achievements. I’d also like to thank all the teams and drivers for their unstinting support, advice and partnership.”