When the 2010 Formula One season ended, so did the contract with Bridgestone as the tire supplier. Over the past days, the first official test of the Pirelli tires has taken place at the same circuit in Abu Dhabi where Sebastian Vettel earned his first World Champion crown.
However, it was the Ferrari team who set fastest time on the new Formula One tires for the 2011 season. Fernando Alonso topped the time sheets in Abu Dhabi for Ferrari after team mate Felipe Massa had done the same 24 hours earlier.
Amassing the most laps of any driver, Alonso's 1:40.529s lap proved too much for the Spaniard's rivals to beat and the double world champion declared himself happy with the test: "Overall, it was a positive day," Alonso said. "We had no particular problems with the Pirelli tyres and we were able to gather a lot of data for the engineers to work on. We were pleased we were able to adapt the set up of the car to suit the new tyres."
With just 15 minutes remaining, Michael Schumacher put in a late charge and took second place but the German, once again, was the centre of controversy and eventually saw his lap time cancelled after cutting a chicane, thus leaving him with seventh fastest lap.
Now promoted into second place, Vettel failed to improve on his time set in the morning session and was a little frustrated to have only completed 66 laps.
Continuing his impressive 2010 form, Rubens Barrichello claimed 4th for Williams and admitted it had been a productive year and that he was looking forward to the winter break: "We did a lot of laps," said the Brazilian. "We learnt everything about the tyre we needed to know and have a good amount of data for the engineers to check out over the winter. I want to thank all of the team for the effort they have put in over the year. They have been great to work with. I am now looking forward to going home and recharging over the next two months and coming back refreshed in 2011."
Renault's Robert Kubica took 5th, Gary Paffett claimed 6th for McLaren followed by teammate Oliver Turvey then Schumacher.
Having broken down earlier in the day and causing a red flag to come out, Paul di Resta continued his decent form for Force India by claiming 8th with a lap of 1:41.869s, despite only completing 35 laps. Kamui Kobayashi ended the day in 9th for Sauber, ahead of Torro Rosso's Sebastian Buemi who was ahead of Force India's Tonio Luizzi and Sauber newcomer Sergio Perez, both drivers only taking to the track in the afternoon.
Lotus were represented by Jarno Trulli who completed 83 laps without incident and without setting a blistering lap time either, managing a lowly 14th, ahead of Pastor Maldonado for Hispania and Virgin's Timo Glock.
With the Formula 1 circus now heading into its winter hibernation and no testing permitted until 2011, focus will now switch to integrating the fresh data acquired from running Pirelli tyres for the first time over the past two days.