Kamui Kobayashi may have given up on finding a way of remaining on the F1 grid this season, but could yet play a part in the sport's future.
The Japanese driver was squeezed out of the Sauber line-up when sponsor pressure led to Esteban Gutierrez being named alongside former Williams
and Force India
pilot Nico Hulkenberg, and saw a fund-raising effort by his fans come up short of raising enough to make him a contender for the remaining vacancies. As a result, Kobayashi took the unusual step of announcing that he was turning his attention to reclaiming a place in the field for 2014, despite seats remaining at Caterham and Force India.
Even though Timo Glock's split with Marussia has opened a third door for those drivers still hoping for a chance to compete in 2013, Kobayashi looks set to land a testing role with Pirelli, as the rumour mill suggests that he could be the next name to be hired by the sport's official tyre supplier.
Although both Lucas di Grassi
and Jaime Alguersuari
remain available to the Italian manufacturer – despite the Brazilian landing an Audi sportscar contract and the development role with Formula E – France's F1i
claims that Kobayashi looks likely to ink a deal with Paul Hembery to help develop the next generation of F1 tyres.
Even before temporarily calling time on his F1 career, the Japanese was being linked to a Pirelli role, along with former Force India
favourite Adrian Sutil, and this week's official programme launch is expected to confirm the tie-up between driver and tyre supplier.
Alguersuari, meanwhile, remains hopeful of landing one of the three race seats currently up for grabs, despite not being the favourite for any of them. Sutil and Jules Bianchi are thought to be the only contenders to partner Paul di Resta at Force India, while Bruno Senna, Vitaly Petrov, Luiz Razia and Giedo van der Garde are likely to see whose money speaks loudest at Caterham and Marussia. Sebastien Buemi
was ruled out of the race for the seats when Red Bull
reconfirmed him as its official reserve on Tuesday [22 January].