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F1 drivers upbeat about Pirelli tires after test

Updated: November 20, 2010, 13:45


ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates(AP) Formula One teams wrapped up their first run on Pirelli tires Saturday, with seven-time champion Michael Schumacher among drivers who were impressed by the new wheels.

Schumacher, who posted a seventh-fastest lap, said the tires were consistent as the two-day testing session involving all 12 teams wrapped.

"We gathered a lot of data and insights, and have positive feedback. I am probably the only driver to have driven with Pirelli tires before but it was 20 years ago and I didn't have any certain expectations before today,'' the 41-year-old Schumacher said. "In terms of consistency, it looked quite good but we were using the 2010 car today and it will be all about how these tires suit our 2011 car.''

Schumacher's 2011 title hopes hinge on Mercedes being able to adapt to the Italian brand, which returns to F1 for this first time since 1991. Schumacher's return was marked by a car that had problems on Bridgestones, who are quitting the sport after having been a supplier since 2001.

Sebastian Vettel said the tires "were already better than expected'' after testing at the Yas Marina circuit, where the 23-year-old Red Bull driver won the F1 drivers' title Sunday.

Fernando Alonso ran 105 laps for the quickest time of the session ahead of Vettel, who edged the Ferrari driver for the championship at the final race. Alonso's time was 1 minute, 40.529 seconds - nearly three-tenths faster than Vettel.

The double world champion said he doesn't expect the switch from Bridgestone to Pirelli to be a "traumatic one.''

"We had no particular problems ... (and) we are pleased with the way we worked and in how we were able to adapt the setup of the car to suit the new tires, especially in terms of the work we can do on the new car in preparation for next season,'' said Alonso, who was upbeat despite returning to the circuit where he arrived as overall leader but watched Vettel snatch the title away.

"I would think it's the same thing the Dutch football players felt when they lost the World Cup final back in July. Then, after a few weeks, they realized they had achieved something, while so many others had not even got anywhere close,'' said Alonso, whose native Spain won that final. "The same goes for us. The final victory eluded us, but in any case we had a great season, with a fantastic fightback in the second part of the year.''

Pirelli will hold a private test in Bahrain from Dec. 12-16 but the next scheduled tests involving all teams don't begin again until February.

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