Pirelli has made clear its desire to continue playing an active role in improving the Formula 1 spectacle through its tyres and today secured a more up-to-date car, in the shape of the 2010 Renault, with which to continue private testing through the course of this season.
The Italian manufacturer was credited with helping transform the quality of the racing last year through the advent of deliberately less durable tyres and in recent months has been pushing to get access to a more contemporary machine, having run a 2009 Toyota since being confirmed as the replacement supplier for Bridgestone mid-way through 2010.
With the Toyota TF109 now considered as having reached the end of its shelf life, Pirelli had been struggling to get agreement amongst the teams for what car it could use next. But a breakthrough has now been reached, with the firm announcing that the Renault R30 will now be used to conduct four or five tests at Barcelona, Jerez, Spa and Monza during the course of this year – with the first session test scheduled for sometime in May.
The R30 will be adapted to simulate the latest 2012 technical and aerodynamic regulations and all 12 teams will be invited to send one observer to each test, although no data surrounding the test programme will be supplied.
With a new car now finalised, Pirelli’s next task is to appoint a designated test driver to carry out the track duties. Nick Heidfeld, Pedro de la Rosa and Lucas di Grassi have all completed tests for the company over the two season and with several experienced drivers currently on the sidelines, such as Jarno Trulli and Adrian Sutil, a number of candidates are likely to be in the running for the 2012 role.
Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery said he hopes to make that appointment within the next month, adding that he was pleased to have finally gained access to a more modern piece of machinery.
He said: “It was clear from an early point that we needed a more modern solution for our test car, as while the Toyota TF109 has served us extremely well, it is now three years old. Technology as well as the regulations have moved on considerably since then, and the Toyota is no longer able to generate the same sort of forces that we need to simulate in order to meet the current requirements of Formula One. At the top of our agenda is the need to treat the teams entirely equally, which is why the test team will be run independently and all the teams will be able to send an observer to the tests. Our new test car will be running to current fuel regulations, with no refueling, so we will be able to simulate a full race distance and the change in balance with the car and tyres. The final piece of the jigsaw will be to recruit a test driver, and we hope to announce this within a month.”