Gary Paffett on Friday said F1's new Pirelli tyre is "not too different" from the product supplied in 2010 by the now departed Bridgestone.
At Abu Dhabi's Yas Marina circuit, the two-day Pirelli test began, with teams and race drivers including new world champion Sebastian Vettel getting their first taste of the sport's new rubber.
At the end of the day, the best time was Felipe Massa's 1.40.1 -- a significant feat for the Brazilian after struggling with the Bridgestone tyre this year.
Indeed, Renault chief engineer Alan Permane reported that the Pirelli's had suffered from "no warm-up issues", which had been a significant problem for drivers including Massa in 2010.
Vettel was also in the 1.40s on Friday.
That is about 2 seconds slower than Daniel Ricciardo's Bridgestone-shod time set in the Red Bull earlier this week, although it must be noted that most teams were also running with the new mandatory weight distribution setup for 2011.
"The tyres seem to be working well and not too different from Bridgestone, so a good start," said Gary Paffett, who has tested the 2010 McLaren with both Pirelli and Bridgestone tyres this week.