Michael Schumacher says that the new Pirelli tyres are "a step forward" and that he noticed a big difference with the rear tyres during the first day of testing.

13313 - Schumacher praises rear tyres

Mercedes had trouble making the rapidly-degrading Pirelli tyres work during 2011, with the rear tyres suffering a notably higher rate of wear on the W02 than the cars of its rivals. After running the W02 again on the first day at Jerez to evaluate the new compounds for this season, Schumacher said that they appeared to be easier to use.

"After a long break, it feels terrific being back in the car and hitting the circuit again," Schumacher said. "Our main job was to get a first impression of the tyres for 2012 and to start understanding them. They feel like a step forward, more consistent and comfortable to drive, and the biggest difference is with the rear tyre. Thanks to everybody at Pirelli for their good job this winter. Let's see what we can learn tomorrow."

Schumacher took over from Nico Rosberg in the afternoon , with his team-mate having enjoyed a very productive morning. Rosberg said that while the on-track running had been good, he was also pleased with the progress of the new W03.

"We made a very good start to our testing programme today and completed 56 laps this morning," he said. "I was driving the 2011 car, so it felt comfortable straightaway. We tested some different things in perfect weather conditions and started learning about the 2012 Pirelli tyres and how they work. I was really happy to be out on track in my Mercedes and I know that, back at the factory, our development of the new car is running according to our plan."