Pirelli has ended speculation about who will take on the job of test driver by announcing Lucas di Grassi will be putting its F1 tyres through their paces.
The Brazilian driver will drive the Italian tyres manufacturer’s Toyota TF109 test car to develop the latest generation of Formula One tyres for the future in at least five tests this year.
In addition to carrying out the tests, the Brazilian will attend some grands prix with Pirelli this year starting from Silverstone, in order to collect information and pass on his experience during technical debriefs.
Di Grassi has been driving Formula One cars since 2005 as a reserve driver for Renault, before obtaining a full time seat in 2010 for the Virgin Racing Formula One team. He has also finished in the top three of the GP2 championship on three consecutive occasions from 2007-2009.
Paul Hembery, Pirelli’s motorsport director, said: “A significant part of our tyre development stems from the feedback we receive from our test driver, so this is an absolutely crucial appointment.
“Lucas has impressed us not only with his pace – which is vital if we are going to accurately simulate racing conditions – but also his technical feedback to the engineers. I’m delighted to welcome Lucas into the team.”
Di Grassi’s programme will be focused on developing the tyres that will be raced throughout the 2012 season.
The Brazilian said: “Pirelli has done a fantastic job so far in a very short space of time and I’m looking forward to helping to make the P Zero tyres even better in the future: not just for the drivers and teams but for the spectators as well.
“This is a great opportunity for me to get more time behind the wheel of a Formula One car – which is difficult these days because of the current testing regulations – and also to use my knowledge to help make a real difference to the sport.”
Alex Kapadia, Operations Team