F1 teams association FOTA is to investigate ways of keeping its members happy while providing the sport's tyre supplier, Pirelli, with a specification of test 'hack' that more closely mirrors the latest breed of grand prix car.
The Italian tyre giant has been using a 2009-spec Toyota for its initial development programme - running Nick Heidfeld, Pedro de la Rosa and Romain Grosjean at various circuits and in various man-made conditions - but has now said that it feels that only a car that represents the technical changes being implemented in the top flight for 2011 will help it make further progress with its rubber, having taken over the mantle of sole supplier from Bridgestone following last year's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Despite being presented with an offer to update the TF109 to something closer to this year's cars - which will run with adjustable rear wings and KERS, but lose the double diffuser and F-duct, amongst other changes - Pirelli is hoping that another solution can be realised, citing the cost of the wind tunnel-driven redesign.
Instead, Italy's Autosprint
magazine reports that Pirelli is hoping FOTA decides on one of two options currently on the table, despite internal fears among the teams that valuable design secrets could be lost.
The teams' association is reportedly pondering between recruiting an team from outside F1 to run a test car designed by a current competitor, although how this will deflect the paranoia remains to be seen. Likewise, the second option, to use a different team's car for each Pirelli test, is fraught with similar complications, leaving FOTA with a tough task.
The ongoing test programme may be good news for veteran de la Rosa, who admitted last week that he had few options in place once his current Pirelli deal concludes at the end of the month. The Spaniard, who has been sharing recent testing duties with Grosjean, has said that he would be willing to take a third driver role with anywhere on the grid, but has nothing on the table. Grosjean, too, could be a contender for Pirelli having not been signed by Lotus Renault as its reserve, as had been suggested in some quarters.
“The truth is that I don't know what will happen next,” de la Rosa told Spanish radio station Rac1
, “In January, the contract with Pirelli ends and my priority is to find a seat in F1. If I don't race, then I would be happy to continue in F1 as a reserve driver, but I'm not close to any teams, so this is an important time for my career.”