Romain Grosjean's decision to return full-time to the GP2 Series could provide an opportunity for Virgin Racing refugee Lucas di Grassi to link up with F1's new tyre supplier, Pirelli.
The Brazilian is out of work since Virgin, and new backer Marussia, opted for the better-funded Jerome d'Ambrosio as partner to F1 veteran Timo Glock in 2011, and has admitted that he would be looking for a test and development deal in order to remain in the top flight for a second year. While it is believed that there could still be a role for him at Virgin, even though Luiz Razia is the team's official reserve, di Grassi's best chance of future F1 employment could rely on other drivers' decisions.
Finland's Turun Sanomat
reports that one such opportunity may arise now that former Renault F1 pilot Grosjean has committed his 2011 season to renewing his pursuit of the GP2 title with DAMS, effectively limiting his ability to continue assisting Pirelli's development programme. The Frenchman had been added to the tyre company's roster alongside Pedro de la Rosa towards the end of last season but, with a desire to return to the top flight following his abortive half-season with the regie
in 2009, will focus on continuing his fruitful relationship with DAMS and Gravity Sorts Management.
Although de la Rosa is now expected to be retained by Pirelli - despite his own fears to the contrary - di Grassi is being tipped to join him, the 26-year old filling the support role while the Spaniard continues to lead the programme once headed by Nick Heidfeld, ironically another driver who finds himself short of work this season.
Although his race results were nothing to shout about in 2010, despite ending the season above Glock in the standings, di Grassi was praised by Virgin for his feedback and development ability, skills that were previously coveted by Renault as a member of its Driver Development scheme.
"The news about Pirelli test driver roles are just speculation at this stage but, sure, it would be interesting to understand the tyre better," the Brazilian wrote on his Twitter
feed after hearing the rumours for himself.