By Alex Kapadia
Pirelli gave F1 teams sets of a new experimental version of the P Zero Yellow soft tyres to try out during the two free practice sessions ahead of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix today.
The new tyres, which sit in between the current soft and the current supersoft, set fastest time in free practice one with a benchmark of 1m40.263s thanks to McLaren driver Jenson Button.
McLaren was on top for most of the session and seemed set for a one-two before Red Bull Racing’s Mark Webber demoted Lewis Hamilton to third – all driving on the experimental tyre.
Paul Hembery, Pirelli’s motorsport director, said: “It’s too early to draw any detailed conclusions about the experimental soft tyre, but we’ve gathered plenty of information and already we have seen that it’s got some very good speed, comfortably surpassing the times set in free practice last year.
“This new tyre is designed to have a better thermal resistance towards blistering, which should lead to greater durability and a smaller performance gap between the compounds, but with similar pace.
“Tonight we will begin to analyse some of the data although there is still plenty of work ahead before we have the definitive compounds fixed for next year.”