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Petrov in frame for Pirelli test role if he fails to land race seat

Vitaly PetrovVitaly Petrov is in the frame to land a test driving role with Pirelli for 2012 if he fails to land a race seat for the season ahead.

The Russian, who has most recently been linked with a drive at Caterham following his dismissal from Renault at the end of last season, made a surprise appearance on Wednesday at a Pirelli press event in Abu Dhabi.

Although the appearance with Pirelli is a one-off for now, Pirelli's motorsport director Paul Hembery has confirmed that the Russian is being considered for an expanded role if he does not race.

"We will see how it goes," Hembery told AUTOSPORT. "There is always a lot of tyre development work to do, and we are eager to have a driver who has experience of racing from the previous year."

Pirelli currently has Lucas di Grassi as its tester, and the Brazilian is also expected to stay on for the season ahead.

The tyre company itself is currently unsure of its testing plans, however, and is awaiting discussions with Formula 1 chiefs to work out how it will continue track running in 2012 - with its old Toyota test car now past its useful life.

Speaking at the season preview event, Hembery said: "We have a meeting with the F1 Commission at the end of February where we hope to put forward some solutions that give Pirelli the chance to test as we hope to.

"No one will thank us if we cannot test because we don't have a test car, but we have to find a solution that suits Pirelli but also suits F1. People in this sport are always worried about one team getting an advantage over someone else, but with everyone using the same electronics from McLaren then they could all have access to the same data that we acquire [if we run one car].

"It is a complex area but at the end of the day we have to do our work."

Petrov has been in talks with Caterham about a role for 2012, and there were rumours that he could even replace Jarno Trulli if the Italian decided that he did not wish to continue with the team.

However, Trulli said last week that he was unaware of the rumours and he spent time at the outfit's Hingham factory on Monday talking through plans for the season ahead with his engineers.

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Petrov hopes to sort future by next week