Pastor Maldonado has returned to motor sport duties by helping Pirelli conduct tests on the new 2017 tyre compounds, which were agreed by the FIA at the end of April.
The tests comprised a two day run at Mugello, followed by one day of track action at Barcelona, where the Venezuelan drove a GP2 car to evaluate tyre construction for both that Series and some early prototype compounds for 2017. The test will have been the first time back in a racing car for Maldonado following his release from Renault, after financial issues for main sponsor PDVSA caused them to miss payments for their driver, which in turn meant he was no longer able to pay for his seat with the Renault F1 squad.
Pirelli are now hoping to move forward with their programme and test the new rubber with 2014 specification F1 cars, which will involve the Mercedes AMG PETRONAS, Scuderia Ferrari, Red Bull Racing and Renault Sport F1 teams, as soon as possible. The McLaren F1 team had also agreed to take part in the tyre development programme for the Italian manufacturer, however as they were powered by Mercedes in 2014, the Woking based squad are unable to help out during this stage of the test, but will come in to assist at a later point in the schedule.
Following the successful completion of the F1 tests, Pirelli have plans to also work with 2015 model hybrid machines, which will hopefully allow them to evaluate mechanical and aerodynamic parameters akin to 2017 car performance levels, and cover as many different areas as possible in order to ensure the construction works correctly in every situation.
The next Pirelli test is set to take place today at Fiorano, due to the difficulty in finding tracks available to use, with Jean-Eric Vergne behind the wheel of a 2014 Ferrari F1 car. The Frenchman has been a test driver for the Maranello based squad since 2015, whilst competing in the FIA Formula E championship for the DS Virgin Racing team.
The tyres in use at the test are of 2016 size, but contain a number of prototype elements to aid in constructing the larger tyres for 2017.