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March 30th, 2012
Lucas di Grassi believes that continuing in his Pirelli test role will keep his driving sharp so that he is ready for a racing return in F1 if the chance arises.
The ex-Virgin driver was set to join Peugeot’s sportscar programme this year, but was left without a seat when the French marque pulled the plug on its programme.
As well as hoping for an F1 shot, he also expects the Pirelli mileage to keep him in the frame for a drive in another category.
“Just driving a car for so much mileage per year is good preparation in case there is an opportunity in F1,” di Grassi told AUTOSPORT.
“But even if there isn’t an F1 chance, I saw when I tested for Peugeot last year that driving an F1 car keeps you in a good condition if there is a chance to race elsewhere in Le Mans cars, IndyCar or wherever.
“My original plan this year was to race for Peugeot and to continue the development work with Pirelli that I enjoyed last year. It’s good to get mileage in an F1 car and it’s crucial to keep you in shape. I also learned some more technical skills that I didn’t have when racing.”
Di Grassi is evaluating programmes in other categories as well as in F1, admitting that a return to grand prix racing would likely depend on raising a budget.
If he races elsewhere, he is determined to ensure that it is in potentially race-winning machinery.
“Last year, I had two good F1 offers but it required sponsors,” said di Grassi. “There are many drivers in F1 who have to bring money and they are talented, but it shows you need the commercial side as well.
“F1 is a great series and I would go to F1 to race, but if there was an opportunity to go into the WEC, DTM or IndyCar and win races, that would also be good. My main concern is to come back in a position to win or compete for the championship.”
Di Grassi has already started work for Pirelli this year, conducting a GP2 test at Jerez and believes that the company will benefit from having both him and ex-Scuderia Toro Rosso driver Jaime Alguersuari on its books.
“The programme is going to be a lot more intense this year as we also get to work on the GP2 car and with the simulator. With two drivers, you get two sets of feedback, which is good for Pirelli.”