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Page last updated at 14:54 GMT, Friday, 19 November 2010

Felipe Massa and Sebastian Vettel pleased with Pirelli

Sebastian Vettel's RedBull at the Pirelli tyre test at Abu Dhabi on Friday
Vettel was second fastest behind Massa on the new Pirelli tyres

The new world champion Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari's Felipe Massa were encouraged by their first drives on Formula 1's new Pirelli tyres.

The Italian company is replacing Japan's Bridgestone as F1's sole tyre supplier next season and tested the new rubber in Abu Dhabi on Friday.

Red Bull's Vettel, who was second fastest behind Massa, said: "The tyres behaved well, better than expected."

Ferrari's Massa added: "I felt at ease right from the start."

All the teams are in Abu Dhabi, scene of 2010's final grand prix on Sunday, for two days of running with the tyres.

The focus of the test is for teams to understand how the tyres work and what that will mean for their 2011 cars.

Sebastian Vettel checks out the new Pirelli tyres in the Red Bull garage in Abu Dhabi
Pirelli are obviously in the middle of their development and what we used today is not what we will race with, but it was a good start

Sebastian Vettel (above)
Red Bull driver and world champion

Massa, 29, was 0.330 seconds quicker than Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel, the new world champion.

Massa's fastest lap of one minute 40.170 seconds was 0.032secs quicker than his qualifying time, which was good enough for sixth on the grid last weekend.

Vettel's best time was a 1:40.500 - 1.106secs slower than his pole position lap.

The German was 0.7secs quicker than McLaren test driver Gary Paffett, who is standing in for race drivers Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button on both days of the test.

Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi was fourth, ahead of Renault's Robert Kubica, whose running was curtailed by reliability problems.

Massa echoed the views of most of the drivers at the test, when he said his first impression of the new tyres was "positive".

The Brazilian added: "There were no unpleasant surprises.

"We tried two different types and acquired a lot of data which will be useful for the Italian company to develop the tyres still further for the start of the 2011 season.

"On the hards, there were some difficulties over a long run while the softs worked well both on the very first lap and also after they had done a larger number of laps."

Vettel, who has spent most of the week since winning his title doing PR and media work, said: "It was all about the tyres today, as this was the first chance we have had to try them out and work with them to develop the car's set-up for next year.

"I think the tyres behaved well, better than expected given the short amount of time Pirelli have had and they've done a good job.

Ferrari's Felipe Massa and his race engineer Rob Smedley at the Pirelli tyre test at Abu Dhabi on Friday
Massa and race engineer Rob Smedley discuss the Pirelli tyres

"Pirelli are obviously in the middle of their development and what we used today is not what we will race with, but it was a good start.

"It was great to be back in the car after an incredible week - I went to Salzburg on Monday morning for a TV show and press conference and then to the UK to say thanks to the team in Milton Keynes - that was quite emotional.

"It's nice for me and the team to be able to enjoy our success, but 2011 started today and I was focusing on the tyres and getting to know them - I think we have learned quite a lot."

Kobayashi added: "The tyres from Pirelli are well made. We tested how to work with these new tyres and how we need to further develop our car for them, learning in which way they are different to what we were used to running.

"The tyres were quite consistent. Only in the morning I struggled with tyre wear, but after we made some set-up changes this wasn't an issue any longer. It was a very interesting test for us."

Pirelli has given each of the teams eight sets of tyres for the test divided between two different compounds, soft and medium.

Renault chief engineer Alan Permane said: "Robert was reasonably happy with the car balance, although we made a few changes during the day to improve it.


"Our initial impression of the tyres has been positive: they were working well with good grip and no warm-up issues."

Pirelli is planning to use information provided by drivers and engineers to modify the tyres before official F1 pre-season testing starts in February next year.

There will be four tests before the 2011 season starts in Bahrain on 13 March.

The first three tests are in Spain, on 1-3 February at the Ricardo Tormo circuit near Valencia, 10-13 February at Jerez and 18-21 February at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya.

The final test will be in Bahrain a week before the first race, from 3-6 March.

Pirelli was last involved in F1 in 1991, but has been preparing for its return by running a 2009 Toyota chassis in Europe this summer, with Nick Heidfeld, Romain Grosjean and Pedro de la Rosa at the wheel.

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see also
Hamilton hopeful on 2011 F1 title
17 Nov 10 |  Formula 1
Vettel and Webber clear the air
16 Nov 10 |  Formula 1
Red Bull youngster sets test pace
16 Nov 10 |  Formula 1

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