By Alex Kapadia
Success at the final Grand Prix of the season will rely on how well teams predict the grip situation on the new Yas Marina circuit, according to a Bridgestone tyres executive.
Earlier today soft and medium tyres swept the two McLaren drivers to the fastest times in the practice sessions for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Lewis Hamilton was quickest in the morning, using the medium tyres, while his team mate Heikki Kovalainen was fastest in the second session on the soft compound.
Hirohide Hamashima, director of motorsport tyre development for Bridgestone, said: “Today was all about learning this fantastic new circuit so for the team and the drivers it was a big challenge.
“As with any new circuit the grip level increased a lot through the day and we saw a big improvement in lap times.
“Our desert location means there was sand and dust on the track at the beginning of the day too. In the later session the track temperature seen was still quite warm.”
He added: “We expect the track to further improve tomorrow. We are currently analysisng today’s data as it is still very early to say how exactly the medium and soft will work in the race.
“We saw graining today, especially on the rear. There was more graining on the soft compound, as you would expect.
“Whilst there was good grip improvement on the racing line, off-line the track is still quite dirty so drivers need to be vigilant here.
“A good qualifying and race set-up will depend on how well the teams predict the grip improvement from the track.”