As the new F1 tire supplier for the 2011 season, Pirelli is gearing up towards its first Grand Prix in 20 years. Its intensive test program continued at Jerez in southern Spain with Nick Heidfeld at the wheel of the company's Toyota TF109 used for pre-season development. Giorgio Pantano also drove the new GP2 car at Jerez, which will run on Pirelli rubber from next year as well.
The 4.43km Jerez circuit has hosted both the Spanish and European Grands Prix in the past, and is a popular venue for Formula One testing because of its technical configuration and year-round warm weather.
Conditions on the first day of Pirelli's test were extremely hot, peaking at 100?F with bright sunshine. The second day was cooler and more cloudy, with a high of 93.
The Jerez circuit contains a variety of corners, ranging from slow curves to some medium to fast bends. The layout puts particular emphasis on rear tires to supply the best traction throughout an ample range of speeds. While Jerez does not result in especially high top speeds, every aspect of a car's performance is comprehensively tested there.
Heidfeld completed nearly 100 laps on the opening day and a similar distance on day two. The objective was to finalize development on tire construction, prior to the next test in Monza in a week's time, when most of the work in this area will be completed. At the same time, Pirelli's development engineers also tried out a range of different compounds, as they focus on preparing the four slick options that will be offered to all the Formula One teams next year. At the test in Monza next week, former Renault Formula One driver Romain Grosjean will drive for Pirelli for the first time. Heidfeld is being released from his contract following the announcement that he will drive for Sauber for the rest of the 2010 season.
Pirelli's Motorsport Director Paul Hembery commented: "We'd like to thank Nick for his valuable contribution to our tire development program and wish him all the best for the future. In order to avoid favoring any individual team, we have jointly decided to release Nick from his contract and have chosen Romain to test for us in Monza. He's packed a lot of experience into a short space of time, including all our GP3 tire development, so I'm sure he'll be able to give us some useful feedback. The tests here at Jerez have gone extremely well and we completed all the work we planned over the two days. Now we move onto Monza, where our task will be to finalize the construction before we focus further on compounds."