Di Grassi confirmed as Pirelli test driver
Pirelli has signed on Brazilian driver Lucas di Grassi as its latest test driver. The 26-year-old will perform at least five test sessions in the Italian tyre maker’s Toyota TF109 test car later this year to provide input for the development of the latest-generation Pirelli Formula One tyres. In addition to carrying out the tests, di Grassi will attend some grands prix with Pirelli this year, starting with Silverstone, in order to collect information and pass on his experience during technical debriefs.
“A significant part of our tyre development stems from the feedback we receive from our test driver, so this is an absolutely crucial appointment,” commented Paul Hembery, Pirelli’s motorsport director. “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. “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,” he said. “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.”
The Brazilian began driving F1 cars in 2005 as a reserve driver for Renault before obtaining a berth with the Virgin Racing Formula One team in 2010; he was later replaced by Jérôme d’Ambrosio and stated he would not seek to secure a seat for the 2011 season. Di Grassi also finished in the top three of the GP2 championship on three consecutive occasions between 2007 and 2009.