Pirelli will use the new-for-2011 GP2 Series Dallara as its test-bed to develop the tires it intends to introduce to Formula 1 next season, until the test ban is lifted post Abu-Dhabi.
Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery has dismissed speculation that the Italian tire manufacturer might use Toyota's stillborn 2010 chassis as a test mule, instead suggesting that the GP2 chassis – an evolution of the current machine – will provide a more reliable platform for development.
"There has been a bit of press about [us using the Toyota chassis] but it has probably come from them because they are trying to get someone to use the car maybe..." Hembery told AUTOSPORT. "No we are going to start with a GP2 car, the new GP2 car.
"Having discussed with the F1 teams the level of performance of the new GP2 car, it's not so far off as you've probably seen. As a testbed, particularly for integrity reasons, reliability and stability, it's probably a good starting point."
Alongside its new F1 deal, Pirelli will also supply GP2 tires from 2011 to 2013. The company is already the sole tire supplier in GP3. Hembery added that Pirelli remains in discussion with the teams about when to upgrade its testing program to F1-level technology and which car to use at that point.
"We are talking with the teams, because we want to understand when we do need an F1 car, what we could use that won't give one team an advantage over another, and will also give us suitable feedback for the work we need to do," he said. "The Toyota car often gets mentioned because it is a custom car that would have got run this season. The negative is that it hasn't done a full shakedown preseason in the sense of the other teams, and for us at the moment we have never seen any data as to how reliable it is, costs or anything.
"One extreme comment was that we were going to buy the Toyota F1 team, but the reality is we've just had a couple of e-mails saying they are available if we want to discuss it.
"We need a baseline that we can trust so that we can start building information," he continued. "Maybe we can convince the teams that a three-year-old car, or something like that might be more suitable alternative if they can all agree on which brand it is. BMW, for example, might be another excellent choice."
Full Q & A with Pirelli's managing director