Lotus Racing's technical chief Mike Gascoyne says having a GP2 team partnership will be a huge benefit for the F1 squad next year, as it will mean a lot more data from Pirelli's tires.
The Air Asia team, owned by Lotus chief Tony Fernandes, will join the GP2 field from next year, and Gascoyne said their GP2 racers are likely to also act as reserves or third drivers for the F1 squad.
Pirelli, which returns to grand prix racing as official supplier next season, is set to use the same rubber in Formula 1 and GP2. Gascoyne is adamant that the extra information from the GP2 team will be a huge benefit for the F1 team.
"When you are sitting there on a Saturday afternoon, where your only real unknown is depreciation, you have a bunch of your boys running around and doing it," Gascoyne said. "From the background we have, in terms of the behavior of cars on the GP2 car and the Toyota, they are not getting differences in results. I think it will be very good information and it is an attractive proposition for GP2 drivers to have a real association with an F1 team."
He added: "We made no secret of the fact that, having now got our partner GP2 team with Air Asia – which is very positive as GP2 is now running on the same tires as F1 so the amount of extra information you can get on a grand prix weekend will be a big advantage. We would like our reserve driver and test driver to be our two GP2 drivers. We would want their feedback during a race weekend, so that follows that we want experienced GP2 drivers who are capable of running at the sharp end and winning.
"The GP2 team will be based at Hingham [UK] with the F1 team, but operation from their unit, but its engineering team will be embedded into the grand prix team. That is a very positive thing for us, and for any prospective drivers."
Gascoyne also reckons the team will take a big step forward thanks to the deal to use Red Bull gearbox/transmission from next year.
"I think nowadays, especially the smaller teams, they have to look for a complete power train supply," he said. "The disappointment of 2010 was that with the package we had, that one part of that was desperately unreliable. So it was very, very important that we put that right for 2011 and also take a step forward.
"There were various people able to offer solutions, but with a 2010 gearbox layout, which would not have been able to accommodate the suspension layout that we are looking at. Red Bull Racing was able to offer us that, with very up-to-date technology, a very lightweight package – and with the rear suspension layout we wanted – plus integrated with the engine direction we are going.
"So it doesn't just solve the problem, it also takes a step forward. The bottom line is that a large proportion of the mechanical part of the car, you know you are at cutting edge – so it is great as it takes it all out of the program and the design resource you have got means you can focus on the bits to make the car go quicker."
• Read the full interview with Mike Gascoyne here.