Formula 1's first wet weather night test has begun at Abu Dhabi's Yas Marina circuit with Pedro de la Rosa at the wheel of Pirelli's test car. The tire manufacturer is conducting six hours of testing tonight and on Tuesday night with the Abu Dhabi circuit soaked with water to allow development work on its wet and intermediate tires.
The reason we're here is because it's warmer," Pirelli's motorsport director Paul Hembery explained. "Of course we could find plenty of wet testing in Europe at Valencia, Silverstone or elsewhere, but in Europe when it's wet it's also cold. There are wet races in F1 in Asia – Malaysia, Japan, possibly Singapore – and those places are different; the ambient temperature stays very high even when it's raining.
"The compounds are extremely sensitive to temperatures in wet conditions, so this provides different information for us on competitive use. And we're testing at night time because we don't want the sun to evaporate the water on the track."
The test will also be the first indication of potential visibility problems if wet weather strikes any of F1's night or dusk races. De la Rosa is not expecting it to be an issue after getting a taste of the conditions in a practice run on Sunday evening.
"This will be the first time I have run in a full wet test at night – probably nobody has done this before," he said. "We did a sample run yesterday with the lights at about 50 percent and the visibility was actually better than when it rains in daytime. We will have to see if this is better when the lights are up to 100 percent today and tomorrow."