23 January 2013
di Grassi, Alguersuari to remain at Pirelli
There will be no new faces on Pirelli's testing strength in 2013, and no new car with which to run its tyres, according to Paul Hembery.
Despite speculation to the contrary, Kamui Kobayashi will not be joining Pirelli's development strength, after the tyre manufacturer confirmed that it intended to keep using its current pairing of Jaime Alguersuari and Lucas di Grassi.
Having been unable to raise the budget for a race seat this season, Kobayashi would have been free to work with Pirelli, but motorsport director Paul Hembery told an audience at the Italian company's annual press launch that there would be no change in personnel for 2013.
“I read on Twitter last night that Kobayashi was going to be unveiled today, but he's not going to be,” Hembery grinned, “There's no reason to change - we've had a great time with Lucas and Jaime, [and] they've done a great job.”
Alguersuari's inclusion in Hembery's plans comes despite the Spaniard continuing to put himself forward for the vacancies that exist on the 2013 grid, while di Grassi recently signed a deal to race sportscars for Audi this summer.
Admitting that Pirelli needed to hammer out a new deal to remain in F1 before there was any point in continuing the development programme, Hembery also revealed that there were also no plans to seek a more up-to-date car to replace its 2010-spec Renault, especially as the shape of F1 would be changing in twelve months' time.
“We will still use the 2010 car, because there's no point having this year's car or last year's car because 2014 is so different,” he explained, “If we did use that car, we'd be looking more at compounds, as 2014 will really be characterised more by use of the simulator rather than on track testing.
“We've worked extensively on tyre modelling, and have a very high level model capability to give to the teams for their simulators. That's how you'd develop for 2014 by and large, because the changes are so great for the cars that we can't have a representative car.”
Pirelli chairman Marco Tronchetti confirmed that the company was open to pursuing a new contract to be the sole supplier to F1, claiming that the teams appeared to be happy with the tyres it was supplying, especially after Pirelli responded to calls to make the rubber less predictable and the racing more exciting. However, he also accepted that the company may need to fight for the right to remain in the sport should any rival manufacturer force the contract to be put out to tender.
Meanwhile, amongst other announcements made at the Milan event, Pirelli confirmed that it would give this year's GP2 Series champion a one-day test in an F1 car as part of his (or her) prize. The company also confirmed that Jean Alesi would become a brand ambassador.
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