After testing Pirelli's new hyper-soft compound for the first time, Lewis Hamilton believes the Italian manufacturer has finally made a breakthrough in its Formula One tyre development.
In an attempt to have suitable compounds for as many of F1's varied race tracks as possible next year, Pirelli has extended its dry weather range to seven compounds for 2018. All compounds will go a stage softer next year and the hyper-soft will be introduced at the extreme end of the range (below the existing ultra-soft) as a tyre capable of offering maximum performance over a single lap.
The hyper-soft made its test debut on Tuesday in Abu Dhabi and Hamilton -- who drove his championship-winning W08 in anger for the last time -- said he was impressed by the new compound.
"I'm not really the biggest fan of testing, but it's been a positive first day of running with these new tyres," he said. "We managed to complete plenty of laps and collected lots of data and feedback to ensure we head in the right direction over the winter.
"We've got a good early understanding of these 2018 Pirelli tyres. On early impression, the new hyper-soft is the best tyre that Pirelli have produced since returning to F1. I found that the other compounds are still a bit too hard for my liking but we're moving in the right direction.
"It's a nice way to wrap up the season, with one last day in the W08. I'm definitely ready to take a break now, though!"
McLaren driver Fernando Alonso was also impressed by Pirelli's 2018 offering, despite making contact with the wall during the morning session.
"It's been very useful for us to have a read on the 2018 tyres," he said. "They felt good, I felt the performance was there and the degradation was under control, so generally I had a good feeling.
"I had a small kiss with the wall this morning and we lost some track time, but the mechanics did an amazing job to fix the car so we could go out again before lunch, which meant we could complete the full programme.