Pedro de la Rosa is set to remain as Pirelli's official test driver in 2011, as Formula 1's new tire supplier closes in on finalizing its development plans for the season ahead.
The Italian tire manufacturer is ready to sign off the tire designs that it will start the new campaign with, but wants to keep up development work throughout 2011 with its own private testing program.
Pedro de la Rosa has helped with that work most recently and Pirelli's motorsport director Paul Hembery said the intention was to keep the Spaniard on board.
"Yes, Pedro will stay unless he gets a drive somewhere else," Hembery said. "That is not looking likely in F1 at the moment, so we are very happy for Pedro to continue with us.
"And maybe he will get involved in some of our other race programs. We still do a few bits of GT racing and will probably gear up more in the future to GT racing, maybe back into prototypes. He is a great tester and we are absolutely delighted with the work he is doing."
Pirelli wants to run development rubber during the 2011 season, and is weighing up the possibilities of doing that during a Friday practice session or in a special Monday post-race test.
"If we do decide with experience that we want to make some adjustments and update the tires, then we have asked how we would go about that," Hembery said: "At the moment, there are two suggestions – one is staying on after the race or indeed using the first practice session on a Friday.
"We want our own development program running parallel to the FIA season, and for that we are discussing a number of options for how we are going to achieve that. But we will be in Istanbul testing in April with our own work and we have seven sessions planned throughout the year, ending up again back in the Middle East where we had a very good test session in Abu Dhabi with the water."
Pirelli's own test car is a version of the 2009 Toyota, and Hembery said the company wants to get a more up-to-date model for 2011 work if at all possible.
"That is under discussion," he explained. "I guess you can imagine that cars develop at such a rate in F1 that the downforce, certainly on the end of season 2010 cars, it is much greater than that produced by the Toyota. So there are two options. One we modify the Toyota so we don't have to worry about rules as such, we can go outside the box and create a different package, or we try and convince the teams to provide a way of having access for us to a 2010 car.
"That, of course, opens up a lot of political issues where somebody may get an advantage over somebody else. But, equally, we have to do our own work. So that is an ongoing discussion, but we are hopeful we can make a decision in the next week."