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For the second race in succession, reigning World Champion Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) has converted pole position to a win on Pirelli tyres. Tyre strategy proved crucial to the race, with the drivers who best looked after their tyres in the punishing conditions of Malaysia being rewarded with the top positions.
The second race of Pirelli in Formula One provided plenty of action and overtaking from beginning to end. The podium was not decided until the very final lap, with Vettel winning by just over three seconds while Heidfeld just managed to hold off fourth-placed Mark Webber.
The top three finishers all selected a similar three-stop strategy, running the soft tyre for the first two stints before switching to the hard tyre for the final stint. Button conserved his rubber to maximum effect, running to the end of the race on the hard tyre following his final stop on lap 38.
“If we thought the Australian Grand Prix was good” – Pirelli’s Motorsport Director Paul Hembery said – “then Malaysia was something else! Thankfully the weather stayed dry, which meant that we were able to see our tyres performing without the rain factor. The Malaysian Grand Prix turned into a battle of strategy and bravery from start to finish, where choosing the right tyres at the right time was absolutely crucial. (…) After such a breath-taking race though there’s no actual time to draw breath, as now we head straight to China for yet another new challenge – and hopefully just as thrilling a spectacle.”
The Chinese Grand Prix takes place next weekend at Shanghai, where Pirelli will once more supply hard and soft PZero compounds to the 12 Formula One teams.
Pirelli started its build-up to Formula One this year with a preliminary test at the Italian circuit of Mugello on 19 August 2010, held in ambient temperatures that peaked at 27 degrees centigrade (with 35 degrees track temperature). The 2011 testing campaign ended seven months later at a rain-lashed Barcelona circuit in Spain, with just 13 degrees on Saturday.
The testing adventure also took Pirelli to Monza, Valencia, Jerez, Le Castellet, Bahrain and Abu Dhabi, covering nearly 100,000 kilometres – the equivalent of more than 300 grand prix – in five countries.
The final test in Barcelona, arranged at short notice after the Bahrain Grand Prix did not take place as the season-opener, covered five days, with each of the teams running for four days each. Weather conditions were dry over the opening four days in northern Spain, with ambient temperatures peaking at 27 degrees centigrade on Thursday, but on Saturday the four teams that were still testing – Ferrari, McLaren, Mercedes and Williams – experienced heavy rain for the first time, with 10 millimetres of water soaking the track in the morning. In fact, conditions were too wet for any constructive running to take place on the final day, with the four teams completing only a total of 101 laps. With deep standing water on the straights, conditions were extremely difficult for the five drivers who took to the track.
During the five days of the Barcelona test, the teams completed a total of 3555 laps, equaling approximately 16,548 kilometres. The team covering the most distance was Sauber, which racked up 390 laps or 1815 kilometres in four days. The fastest time of the test was posted by Michael Schumacher (Mercedes), who set a time of 1m21.268s on Friday, comfortably eclipsing the benchmark of 1m22.625s established by Felipe Massa (Ferrari) at the previous Barcelona test last month. The team with the most wet-weather experience is also Mercedes, which completed 40 laps today in soaking conditions.
Pirelli’s Motorsport Director Paul Hembery said: “It’s certainly been a very interesting five days, where we’ve experienced a huge variety of weather conditions. We had a brief window of optimal conditions in the afternoon during the week, where temperatures were finally high enough for our hard and soft compound rubber to come into its ideal operating range. This enabled a number of the teams to carry out race simulations, which revealed some interesting data. Then on Saturday, we had a deluge – but the conditions were really too wet then for the four teams present to learn anything significant. What we have seen over the course of the test, particularly during the race simulations, is a wide variety of strategies, which promises an exciting season ahead. During the previous test in Barcelona, we calculated from the race simulations that there were 54 potential overtaking opportunities – and that was without all the cars present. Australia is sure to be very different to Barcelona, but now we’re just looking forward to getting started.” The Australian Grand Prix, which marks Pirelli’s return to Formula One for the first time in 20 years, takes place on March 27 at Albert Park in Melbourne.
A copyright-free video news release featuring an interview with Paul Hembery, as well as photographs and press releases from the Barcelona test, are available for media use from: : www.pirelli.com/pressarea
Pirelli, the official tyre supplier to Formula One for the next three years, will get the 2011 season underway in the United Arab Emirates with an unprecedented test. Never before in single-seater history has a test been organised at night and on an artificially wet track to recreate the conditions experienced in a typical rainy grand prix.
The Abu Dhabi test will take place a few weeks before the Valencia test, the first official group session of the 2011 season. The Yas Marina Circuit is one of the most fascinating venues on the Formula One calendar, a perfect setting for this extraordinary event that will call a halt to the development phase for Pirelli’s Formula One tyres. For the first time in the history of Formula One, the 5.55-kilometre Yas Marina track will be coated in water to create a unique 12-hour night test.
Abu Dhabi testing wets and intermediates This is the last round of private tests for Pirelli, with the wet and intermediate tyres solely in use. Today’s session will start at 1800hrs and continue until midnight, with same schedule for tomorrow. Within the range of 2011 compounds, these rain tyres have been specifically designed for wet or damp conditions. In line with current FIA regulations, Pirelli dry tyres comprise four different compounds that have already been successfully tested.
Test driver Pedro de la Rosa will be at the wheel of a Toyota TF109, chosen by Pirelli to try out the entire new range of Formula One tyres. The TF109 was the last car to be developed by the Japanese manufacturer before it withdrew from the championship at the end of 2009, winning five podiums over its last season of competition. The test car will cover more than 1,000 km in extreme driving conditions with the rubber having to deal with severe stresses on a tricky wet and hot tarmac.
Paul Hembery, Pirelli Formula One Team Director said: “This is a unique opportunity to witness a Formula One test car on track at night in the wet and on hot tarmac, in an entirely floodlit setting. We decided to do it this way because we want to challenge our rain tyres with the most difficult and demanding of all situations. And who knows, perhaps it could be a good idea for a future grand prix? These tests will provide us with useful information to finalise our tyre development process for Formula One. It is seven months since we started developing our tyres and five since we started with the actual testing. We are very satisfied with the results so far and we have also collected very positive feedback from the teams. Soon it will be time to get started in Spain where the first official test of the season will take place. We will use this opportunity to gather more feedback from teams and drivers and be ready for the Bahrain Grand Prix in March.”