Button gives slicks the thumbs-up

Jenson Button has given the return of slick tyres to Formula One action a big thumbs-up, as he labelled his first run on the experimental rubber at Jerez in Spain as pure 'fun'

Teams have been handed a few sets of the slick tyres by Bridgestone this week as part of a preliminary evaluation for their return to F1 in 2009.

Honda, BMW Sauber and Super Aguri used the first day of this week's final test of the year to try out the rubber, while Giancarlo Fisichella also fitted slicks late on but his run for Force India provided limited feedback as he suffered from a differential problem.

And although the new tyres proved instantly faster, with Nick Heidfeld and Button topping the timesheets, the drivers were far happier that they had delivered an improved feel compared to the grooves that have been used since 1998.

"It was fun," Button told about his first run on slicks. "It was the first time I ever drove slicks on an F1 car, and it was more predictable. You know where the car is going a lot more.

"I think it was F3 when I last drove on slicks, and I really enjoyed it today. Obviously it is only the beginning of the development, but I had a good impression. We still have to work together with the 2009 regulations, but it was good."

But despite Button's optimism about the new slicks, Super Aguri test driver James Rossiter issued a more cautious note as he went even further with simulation for 2009.

With Button and Heidfeld trying out the slicks with 2008 levels of downforce, Rossiter evaluated the slick rubber with 2009 levels - and had mixed feelings about what cars will feel like in two years' time.

He reckoned that any benefit the slick tyres would bring to the handling of the car would be negated by planned cuts in downforce levels due to new aerodynamic rules.

"I tried the 2009-simulated downforce levels with grooved tyres and it was undriveable," he told "But then I put the slicks on and it got better.

"On slicks I think you are better on high speed corners, and maybe you can get closer to the cars in front, but I think you lose a bit in the lower speed corners. So I don't know.

"It is still in the initial stage of development, so we will see what happens. But I must say it was quite difficult to drive."

McLaren have said they will wait until Friday to try out the slick tyres for the first time.

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