Yesterday, McLaren reserve driver Stoffel Vandoorne topped the final F1 test of the year in Abu Dhabi on as Pirelli tested new compounds and constructions in preparation for the 2016 season
The pre-season test yesterday ran for 12 hours from 09:00 to 21:00 and was Pirelli’s only chance to test slick tyres ahead of pre-season testing next year. Pirelli used the test to try out its new ultrasoft compound; which has been designed with street races such as Monaco in mind, as well as different tyre constructions.
All 10 teams currently on the grid were present and started the day testing the existing super-soft and soft compounds to register a base level of performance and confirm car set-ups. After roughly 90 minutes the prototype tyres were tested; with several variations of the ultrasoft tyres being used in order for Pirelli to choose one for next year.
The test was ‘blind’ so neither the drivers nor the teams knew which kind of tyre specification they were testing. During the test, the teams were not allowed to try new parts or change any other components. In total the ten teams completed 6,020 KM over 1084 laps with one car each.
In a statement to the press after the pre-season test yesterday, Pirelli tyre boss Paul Hembery stated the following:-
‘We had one shot when it came to testing tyres for next season, and we can be satisfied by what we’ve achieved in this test, even if we have to fully analyse the data. We’ve tested different versions of the new ultrasoft compound for 2016, which was one of the targets for this session.
‘The ultrasoft’s target for 2016 is to introduce a compound softer than the supersoft and mainly designed as agressive choice for street circuits: with better performance than the latest version of the supersoft tyre and faster degradation, in order to allow the teams to take a more aggressive approach to race strategy.
‘Whether this will produce more pit stops, or any difference in strategies, it’s too early to say for now. We will fully analyse our data and team telemetry once we get back to base. But it seems we are heading in the right direction: the ultrasoft is expected to offer more possibilities for certain races. We also tested some different constructions for both front and rear tyres.’
Nine 2of the 2015 race drivers took part in the test, while Force India development driver Alfonso Celis Jr and Manor development driver Jordan King made their debuts for their respective teams.
Mercedes opted to run reserve driver and DTM champion Pascal Wehrlein, while Lotus put 2016 driver Jolyon Palmer behind the wheel. Adderly Fong shared the Sauber with Marcus Ericsson and Rio Haryanto split the Manor’s track time with King.
But it was Stoffel Vandoorne who topped the timesheets with a lap time of 1.44.103 ahead of Kimi Raikkonen in second place, Marcus Ericcson in third place, Jolyon Palmer in fourth place and Sebastian Vettel in fifth place. Pascal Wehrlein ended the session in seventh place ahead of Daniel Ricciardo in seventh place, Max Verstappen in eighth place, Nico Hulkenberg in ninth place and Valtteri Bottas who rounded off the top ten finishers of the session.
Daniil Kvyat ended the session in eleventh place ahead of Carlos Sainz Jr in twelfth place, Adderly Fong in thirteenth place, Alfonso Celis Jr in fourteenth place, Rio Haryanto in fifteenth place and Jordan King in sixteenth place.
1. Vandoorne, McLaren, 1:44.103,99 laps
2. Raikkonen, Ferrari, 1:44.456, 56 laps
3. Ericsson, Sauber, 1:44.480 50 laps
4. Palmer, Lotus, 1:44.568, 90 laps
5. Vettel, Ferrari, 1:44.940, 56 laps
6. Wehrlein, Mercedes, 1:45.605, 107 laps
7. Ricciardo, Red Bull, 1:45.805, 57 laps
8. Verstappen, Toro Rosso, 1:45.849, 54 laps
9. Hulkenberg, Force India, 1:45.852, 71 laps
10. Bottas, Williams, 1:45.940, 103 laps
11. Kvyat, Red Bull, 1:46.309, 48 laps
12. Sainz, Toro Rosso, 1:46.995, 56 laps
13. Fong, Sauber, 1:48.439, 57 laps
14. Celis Jr, Force India, 1:48.545, 65 laps
15. Haryanto, Manor, 1:49.593, 56 laps
16. King, Manor, 1:49.661, 59 laps
The next F1 action will be a wet tyre test in January at the Paul Ricard circuit in France.