Ferrari and Red Bull Racing went quickest during the two free practice sessions at the legendary Nurburgring today. All the teams had two sets of a new version of the P Zero Yellow soft tyre at their disposal for today only, which Fernando Alonso used to set a time of 1m31.894s in the opening session this morning: already beating Mark Webber’s pole time from 2009 (the last time that the German Grand Prix was held at the Nurburgring) of 1m32.230s. In the afternoon, Webber went quickest for Red Bull Racing with a time of 1m31.711s, using the current version of the P Zero Yellow soft tyre.
The experimental P Zero Yellow tyres are designed to offer greater durability and less degradation than the current version, but lap times should remain about the same: which was shown to be the case during the two free practice sessions today. The new version of the soft tyre was also capable of multiple-lap runs, getting quicker on each occasion, to underline its increased durability. Just like the current P Zero Yellow compound, the experimental tyre was branded with yellow stripes on the sidewalls. All the teams used it in the morning session, before running both types of tyre in the afternoon.
Weather conditions were cool and overcast, with ambient temperatures in the region of 14 degrees centigrade and a threat of rain that did not quite materialise. As well as both versions of the soft tyre, the drivers also used the P Zero White medium compound tyre today: the other nomination for the race. The difference in pace between the medium and the soft tyre was around nine-tenths of a second, as expected, providing plenty of scope for strategy.
Pirelli’s Motorsport Director Paul Hembery commented: “We’ve been pleased with what we can see so far of the performance from our experimental P Zero Yellow tyres, although we will have to wait to hear the detailed feedback from the teams before we draw too many conclusions. However, we’ve seen that the performance from these new tyres is similar to the pace from the current soft tyre, but with added durability. So one option could be to use it as a medium tyre next year. The cool conditions today meant that the rapid warm-up time of the soft tyre was an important factor in performance, and we expect that to remain the case for the rest of the weekend.”
PIRELLI FACTS OF THE DAY
There is a difference in elevation of 300 metres from the highest point to the lowest point of the old Nurburgring Nordschleife, while the minimum elevation of the new circuit is 565 metres and the maximum is 627 metres – a difference of only 62 metres.
German drivers have won 119 grands prix since the Formula One World Championship was created: second only to British drivers who have won 214 races.
Sebastian Vettel is already the second most successful German driver in history, but with 16 race wins to his name so far he still has some way to catch up with Michael Schumacher, who has 91 victories.
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