McLaren protégé Stoffel Vandoorne has given the Woking team something to cheer about by clocking the fastest time in Tuesday’s twelve-hour Formula 1 Pirelli tyre test at the Yas Marina Circuit.

The Belgian lapped the uncompetitive MP4-30 in a fastest time of 1:44.103, finishing three-tenths of a second faster than Ferrari’s Kimi Räikkönen. That Vandoorne’s ultimate lap time was some four-tenths of a second faster than the fastest lap of Sunday’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix posted by Lewis Hamilton should give you all the indication you need that the stopwatch results were utterly meaningless.

The end-of-season test was organised at the behest of the series’ official tyre supplier, Pirelli, in order for it to evaluate potential tyre constructions and compounds for the 2016 Formula 1 season. All media was banned from the event.

The test was attended by all ten teams – who each provided a car and a selection of their regular drivers, reserve/academy drivers or a few well-heeled pay drivers – to assist Pirelli in its work.

The day saw the teams conduct 90 minutes of running on the current-spec Soft and Super Soft compound tyres before each team was allocated a selection of unmarked prototype tyres. These include a number of variations of the new Ultra Soft compound which will be introduced next season, in addition to a variety of different front and rear tyre constructions.

The teams were never informed which specification of tyres they were running and were not allowed to trial any development parts that would assist with the development of their 2016 chassis’.

Pirelli’s Paul Hembery declared that his firm was pleased with how the day had progressed.

“We had one shot when it came to testing tyres for next season, and we can be satisfied by what we’ve achieved in this test, even if we have to fully analyse the data,” he said.

“The UltraSoft’s target for 2016 is to introduce a compound softer than the SuperSoft and mainly designed as an aggressive choice for street circuits, in order to allow teams to take a more aggressive approach to race strategy.

“Whether this will produce more pit stops, or any difference in strategies, it’s too early to say for now, but it seems we are heading in the right direction. The ultrasoft is expected to offer more possibilities for certain races.”

For what it’s worth, the final testing results were as follows:

2015 Formula 1 Pirelli Tyre Test – Unofficial Results
Pos Driver Team / Entry Time Gap Laps
1. Stoffel Vandoorne be McLaren Honda MP4-30 1:44.103 99
2. Kimi Räikkönen fi Scuderia Ferrari SF15-T 1:44.456 + 0.353 56
3. Marcus Ericsson se Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C34 1:44.480 + 0.377 50
4. Jolyon Palmer uk Lotus F1 Team Mercedes E23 Hybrid 1:44.568 + 0.465 90
5. Sebastian Vettel de Scuderia Ferrari SF15-T 1:44.940 + 0.837 56
6. Pascal Wehrlein de Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W06 Hybrid 1:45.605 + 1.502 107
7. Daniel Ricciardo au Infiniti Red Bull Racing Renault RB11 1:45.805 + 1.702 57
8. Max Verstappen nl Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR10 1:45.849 + 1.746 54
9. Nico Hülkenberg de Sahara Force India Mercedes VJM08B 1:45.852 + 1.749 71
10. Valtteri Bottas fi Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW37 1:45.940 + 1.837 103
11. Daniil Kvyat ru Infiniti Red Bull Racing Renault RB11 1:46.309 + 2.206 48
12. Carlos Sainz es Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR10 1:46.995 + 2.892 56
13. Adderly Fong hk Lotus F1 Team Mercedes E23 Hybrid 1:48.439 + 4.336 57
14. Alfonso Celis mx Sahara Force India Mercedes VJM08B 1:48.545 + 4.442 65
15. Rio Haryanto id Manor Marussia F1 Team Ferrari MR03B 1:49.593 + 5.490 56
16. Jordan King uk Manor Marussia F1 Team Ferrari MR03B 1:49.661 + 5.558 59

Image via Pirelli

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Geoff Burke

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