By Alex Kapadia
Ferrari driver Felipe Massa set the fastest lap of the all-new Buddh International Circuit on the P Zero Yellow soft tyres.
For Friday’s two sessions, the drivers had three sets of P Zero Yellow soft tyres and one set of P Zero Silver hard tyres at their disposal.
The teams are expected to use opt mainly for the softer tyres during the race to maximise grip and performance, which is why one additional set of the P Zero Yellow compound was made available today. This tyre is expected to be up to two seconds per lap faster than the P Zero Silver.
The priority for all the teams was to accumulate as much data as possible on this brand new circuit, with the only track information before today coming via computer simulation.
Although the majority of teams ran on both the hard and the soft compounds during both sessions, they concentrated on the softer rubber – assessing the performance of the P Zero Yellow tyre with different fuel loads and different set-ups.
Paul Hembery, Pirelli’s Motorsport Director, said: “It’s been a busy day, which matched our expectations – underlining the quality of the simulation data that we created before the start of the event.
‘Our first impressions of the track are very positive, and from what we can see there will be a number of good overtaking opportunities.
“The layout provides an interesting work-out for our tyres, due to the mix of high-speed straights, constant loaded corners and heavy braking areas.
“Working out exactly how the tyres degrade is tricky because the track is still cleaning, having started off very dusty before clear racing lines emerged. This dust has a significant effect on tyre performance, as the tyres can grain due to sliding and rear wheelspin.
“As the performance gap between the soft tyre and the hard tyre is notable here, the key to race strategy will be getting the softs to last for as long as possible.
“It will be interesting to see what all the different teams come up with to achieve that goal. We can see from our data so far that wear levels are in line with a two to three stop strategy.”