Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery insists that the lap times produced during the two-day tire test that starts in Abu Dhabi tomorrow are not the Italian company's priority.
All 12 Formula 1 teams will run during the test, most of them using their regular race drivers. It will be the first time that the Pirelli development rubber has run on 2010-specification machinery after all of the test running was completed using a 2009 Toyota TF109.
Although comparisons with the pace of the cars on Bridgestone rubber both during the recent Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and the two days of young driver running that finished yesterday are inevitable, the focus is on assessing the driveability of the tires and the compounds rather than lap times.
"It's not important because the track changes a lot," Hembery told AUTOSPORT. "Based on the young driver test, I think we have found someone who is a second-and-a-half faster than Vettel! That's the perfect example of how different days, different times, different conditions affect things.
"We have never set out looking for lap times. That's not to give you excuses about whether we are slow or fast because we haven't got a clue, to be honest. Maybe we like the surface that has been created and we have a great time! But it has never been an objective given to us and it's not something that we have been able to chase."
Despite the construction of the tires being close to finalized, the compounds are likely to change based on team feedback from the test. Hembery believes that one of the priorities will be to assess how close to their targets the performance of the soft- and medium-compound tires supplied will be.
"The construction is pretty well locked," he said. "There are a couple of minor modifications that will happen between now and February. In terms of compounds, it will give us the chance to understand our grading of what a medium and a soft tire is. We read what was used by the previous tire supplier during the season, but there is no substitute for getting onto a circuit yourself and getting the feedback from the drivers.
"We might have to change the range of our compounding because maybe our medium is a hard or our medium is a soft. We want to know where our compound levels are."
After the test, Pirelli will take all of the data and feedback from the teams and modify the compounds accordingly with the aim of coming up with a final tire specification for preseason testing. The teams will be left to run whatever program that they choose during the test, rather than Pirelli dictating the agenda.
"By and large, it is [up to the teams]," says Hembery. "There are four sets each day and there's a medium and a soft choice. The circuit will spend spend a little time getting cleaned up on the first day of running and we'll probably get a bit of pickup and a few vibrations, which is normal when you go onto a circuit that is covered in another tire maker's rubber. We will see what the teams come back with."