Pirelli has confirmed that Pedro de la Rosa will join its development program ahead of its return to Formula 1 in 2011.
The Italian tire manufacturer was confirmed as the sole supplier from 2011-2013 by the FIA earlier this year. Its initial development work was carried out by Nick Heidfeld. But with the German returning to racing this weekend in place of de la Rosa at Sauber, the Spaniard had been tipped to go in the opposite direction and join Pirelli. That has now been confirmed by Pirelli, which will also retain Romain Grosjean after the ex-Renault driver impressed with his feedback in testing at Monza this week.
Francesco Gori, CEO of Pirelli Tire, said: "So far, our work has been carried out by Nick Heidfeld, but as he is going back to racing, he will be replaced by Pedro de la Rosa and Romain Grosjean. "They will test until the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, when afterward all of the teams will test for the first time with Pirelli tires."
Gori, speaking at a press conference at the Turkish Pirelli factory where it will produce its F1 tires, added that the focus is now on developing its various compounds, having settled on the shape and structure of the tire.
"Our first step was the aerodynamic profile of the tire," he said. "The design and shape is very critical, and we have to provide the teams with this because they have very few months to get this fixed for next year. This is something we have achieved, and job number two is the structure of the tire. This is to make sure that it can support to stress and speed of a Formula 1 car, and we are in the final stage of development there.
"The next challenge is the compounds. Different solutions are currently being tested, on tracks from Monza – the fastest – to Jerez, the most abrasive."