Bridgestone's soft tyre took Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver Heikki Kovalainen to the fastest time of the first ever day of Formula One cars running at the spectacular Yas Marina Circuit for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Kovalainen set a time of 1m 41.307secs in the later of the two afternoon practice sessions. His team- mate Lewis Hamilton was fastest in the first practice session, using the medium compound Bridgestone Potenza.
Q&A with Hirohide Hamashima - Bridgestone Director of Motorsport Tyre Development
What was significant about today's running?
"Today was all about learning this fantastic new circuit so for the teams 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 dropped quite quickly after sunset, but even the coolest temperature seen was still quite warm."
How do you expect this allocation to work over the weekend?
"We expect the track to further improve tomorrow. We are currently analysing 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."