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Grosjean signs up with Pirelli - A surprisingly coveted role - Romain takes a job with F1's sole tyre supplier

Published by Christine

Pirelli PZero GP3 tyres.
Credit: Pirelli S.p.A.

News has emerged today that former Renault driver Romain Grosjean will take the recently vacated test driver role at Pirelli - at least for one upcoming test in Italy. With the sudden announcement earlier in the week that Nick Heidfeld would be back on the grid in Singapore, racing for Sauber, we wondered whether it would be a direct swap. De la Rosa could take the role at Pirelli and all would be well.

As it turns out, Romain Grosjean has been given the nod for the test in Monza next week, leaving De la Rosa out in the cold for now. Whilst Heidfeld's was a long-term contract with the incoming tyre manufacturer, so far they have not announced a permanent replacement.

The first thing that strikes me about this news is that I have never known such interest in a test driver role that isn't even for an F1 team. I can think of only three reasons this might be the case.

So many drivers, so little time

Perhaps it is because there are so many drivers we know and love who are currently without a seat. I thought that the expansion of the grid from ten to twelve teams would be ample opportunity for new drivers to get a taste of F1, and whilst that has been the case, there are so many other names that are missing out.

The young driver test at the end of last year threw up lots of new potential drivers, some of whom have made it onto the grid, but plenty of whom are waiting in the wings. There are also old favourites such as the recently-ousted Chandhok, the tempestuous Wurz, and to a lesser extent Villeneuve. Any opportunity for another name to get a regular gig out on track is worthy of applause.

That dreaded testing ban

Is it simply that there is so little opportunity for testing, that we crave news of the development of cars and tyres alike. The team demonstrations that cross the globe have gotten more than their fair share of coverage, and plenty of it raises questions regarding what they can learn from each run up and down a limited street circuit.

With Heidfeld's brief stint behind the wheel of a Pirelli test car, he is already taking forward knowledge to Sauber that no-one else will have. Is that fair? How much can he really have gained from a week or so with the tyre people?

New tyres, new possibilities

The other option is that we are interested simply because the tyre supplier is new and it's exciting. Instead of all this nonsense about Bridgestone compounds, we get the same nonsense but from a brand new company. They may have some different ideas, suggestions to take the sport forward. Granted, it's not a tyre war, but fresh faces can often inspire new things.

What do you think? Is the news about who is on Pirelli's roster of drivers interesting? Was this Heidfeld business just a blip or a sign of a troubled run up to 2011?