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Teams get positive first impression of new Pirelli tires

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The Formula One teams had their first impression of Pirelli’s latest grand prix tires this week, at the opening official Formula One test of the year at Jerez in Spain.

The tight and twisty 4.428-kilometre Spanish track tested most aspects of Pirelli’s new range of 2013 tires. This allowed the teams to learn about the basic characteristics of the latest-generation P Zero products over four days and form a positive first impression.

The teams now move to Barcelona for the next official Formula One test from February 19-22.

“The four days spent at Jerez, with most teams running their new cars, gave us all a good general impression of the characteristics of our 2013 tires on track, with completely new compounds and construction," says Pirelli's  Paul Hembery. "It seems that we are very much on the right road and the changes we wanted to see are all there: The tires are faster than their equivalents last year, and they have a wider window of peak performance.

"Conditions at Jerez were not ideal this year however, as it was an extremely abrasive track -- the most abrasive of all the circuits we visit all year -- and consequently it was hard to draw any proper conclusions, given that the surface had actually become even more abrasive than last season. We came away with plenty of data for the hard and medium tires, very little for the soft tire and none for the supersoft.

"Now we look forward to the next two test sessions at Barcelona, which will provide another very valuable opportunity for the teams to extend their knowledge of this year’s tires.”

Here were the fastest lap times for the new tires tested.

Soft: Felipe Massa, Ferrari, 1.17.879, day three.

Medium: Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, 1.18.766, day three.

Hard: Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, 1.18.565, day four.

A total of 385 sets of tires were brought to Jerez, broken out as follows: seven sets of supersoft tires, 49 sets of soft tires, 157 sets of medium tires, 95 sets of hard tires, 42 sets of inermediate tires and 35 sets of wet tires.

The teams are allocated 100 sets of tires per car per year for testing purposes. The teams concentrated on working their way through the different compounds, in order to get an initial read about how the latest generation of deliberately fast-wearing tires from Pirelli interacted with their new cars, both when new and used. Pirelli brought a total of 35 sets per car to this test (20 chosen by Pirelli, 15 by each team).

Ambient and track temperatures were cool, in the region of 15 degrees Centigrade average most days, which led to a risk of graining. This occurs when a tire slides if it is not up to temperature, and the friction against the track surface creates a wave-like pattern of wear, known as graining. This was mostly noted in the very cool conditions of the morning -- sometimes with temperatures of less than five degrees Centigrade -- and accentuated by the abrasive surface.

With the conditions and track layout at Jerez not really typical of anywhere else this year, the time difference between the compounds is not expected to be completely representative of the rest of the season.

Some teams were able to run up to 700 kilometers per day, the equivalent of more than two grand prix distances.

None of the intermediate or wet tires were used to set a lap time, as conditions remained completely dry throughout all four days.

As well as evaluating cars and tires, teams also carried out pit stop practice.

The orange marking for the hard tire was seen for the first time, replacing last year’s silver.

The technical layout of Jerez, with its slow corners, placed heavy demands in terms of traction, particularly on the rear tires.

The high macro-roughness of the track at Jerez is caused by a lack of bitumen in the asphalt, leading to a relatively open surface, which creates the abrasion.

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