Former Williams and Lotus driver Pastor Maldonado is back behind the wheel of a race car having been tapped by Pirelli for some preliminary 2017 tyre tests.

Maldonado, an F1 race winner with Williams at the 2012 Spanish Grand Prix, had originally signed to race with the revived Renault outfit, but was dropped in January when it became clear his critical backing from struggling state-backed Venezuelan oil firm PDVSA wasn't forthcoming.

Yet to source a drive elsewhere, Maldonado has, according to, been called up to help with its private testing plans and has reportedly driven a GP2 car fitted with early prototype 2017 rubber.

The Italian firm was given the green light for additional in-season test days for 2016 last month in an effort to better prepare it for 2017 when sweeping technical regulation changes are set to be introduced.

It will also be allowed to use 2013 and 2014 specification cars to help with its initial programme, before moving on to modified 2015 machinery.