Pirelli’s PZero White medium compound tyre made its first appearance during a grand prix weekend in Canada, when the teams used the two extra sets they had been given for today’s free practice sessions only to evaluate the new rubber for the future.
However, it was the PZero Red supersoft tyre that set the fastest time of the day, getting within two-thousandths of a second of last year’s pole position time, despite the very slippery conditions caused by a ‘green’ track with very little rubber laid down on it and two red flag periods.
As well as the new PZero White compound and the supersoft, the teams also used the PZero Yellow soft tyre, which will be the prime tyre for the race.
Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg was quickest in the morning session with a time of 1m15.591s, just over half a second quicker than Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso. Both drivers used Pirelli PZero Yellow tyres to set their time, comfortably eclipsing the benchmark of 1m18.127s that was set in FP1 last year.
In the afternoon session, which was again run in dry and warm conditions of 24 degrees centigrade, the teams continued to evaluate the new tyres, as well as running on the PZero Red supersoft rubber for the first time during the weekend. Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso went fastest in the afternoon, setting a time of 1m15.107s on the PZero Red supersoft tyres, tantalising close to last year’s pole time of 1m15.105s.
Former Pirelli test driver Pedro de la Rosa made his return to Formula One competition with the Sauber team, standing in for regular driver Sergio Perez who felt unwell after FP1. De la Rosa, who spearheaded Pirelli’s development programme, was 18th in his first practice session since the 2010 Italian Grand Prix after less than 15 minutes of running.
One of Pirelli’s guests for the weekend, watching the action from the Italian firm’s hospitality, was ‘gymkhana’ star Ken Block, visiting the race before announcing details of his latest challenge with Pirelli on Sunday.
Pirelli’s Motorsport Director Paul Hembery commented: “We certainly had an actionpacked session today, underlining the challenging reputation of this fantastic circuit. As the track is only used in its entirety twice a year there was very little grip today, but despite this handicap our tyres were extremely competitive, easily eclipsing the free practice times from last year and coming incredibly close to the 2010 pole time. We’re sorry that Sergio Perez is not feeling well and hope to see him back behind the wheel soon, but it was a fantastic effort from Pedro de la Rosa to jump into the car and immediately go 18th fastest, and it’s great to see two former Pirelli test drivers on the grid now! The feedback about the new medium tyre was generally good and now we need to evaluate all the data we have gathered over the course of the two sessions.”
Pirelli fact of the day:
So far, the average number of pit stops this year has been 61.5 per race: the equivalent of the 2.5 stops per car. This puts Pirelli right on course to meet its stated aim of having two to three pits stops per car at every race.
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