Schumacher positive about 2011 tyres

London: Michael Schumacher gave a cautious vote of confidence in new Formula One tyre supplier Pirelli on Saturday and looked forward to the long winter break after a difficult comeback season with Mercedes.

The seven-time world champion tested for the team in Abu Dhabi on the second and final day of a post-season tyre test in Abu Dhabi, posting the seventh fastest lap.

With Formula One teams now switching off the engines until the New Year and the unveiling of the 2011 cars, Schumacher said it was still too early to tell whether the Italian brand would suit his style better than now-departed Bridgestone.

The German won five titles in a row with Ferrari and Bridgestone but, after ending a three-year break to come back at the age of 41, he struggled to adapt to the Japanese manufacturer`s final offering of tyres this year.

Pirelli have replaced Bridgestone as the sport`s sole supplier and the success of Schumacher`s comeback will be dependent on the 2011 Mercedes and the new tyres being more to his taste.

"I am probably the only driver to have driven with Pirelli tyres before but it was 20 years ago and I didn`t have any certain expectations before today," the German said in a team release.

"In terms of consistency, it looked quite good but we were using the 2010 car today and it will be all about how these tyres suit our 2011 car."

"I am already curious to try it out but at the same time I am looking forward to having a break now. I am sure the guys are too and they clearly deserve it," he added.

Ferrari`s Fernando Alonso ended the final day of testing at Yas Marina with the quickest lap time ahead of Red Bull`s Sebastian Vettel, the 23-year-old German who beat him to the championship at the same track last Sunday.

The Spaniard completed 105 laps, almost two full race distances.

"From what we could see, the switch from Bridgestone to Pirelli should not be a traumatic one," said the double world champion, still clearly nursing his sorrows after the title disappointment.

"I would think it`s the same thing the Dutch football players felt when they lost the World Cup final back in July," he said of his defeat.

"Then, after a few weeks, they realised they had achieved something, while so many others had not even got anywhere close. The same goes for us: the final victory eluded us, but in any case we had a great season, with a fantastic fight back in the second part of the year."

Pirelli will conduct a private test in Bahrain from Dec 12-16 but the next scheduled test with all the teams will be in February.

Bureau Report