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De la Rosa move to HRT the first of a raft of driver announcements
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Darren Heath
Posted By: James Allen  |  21 Nov 2011   |  8:15 pm GMT  |  118 comments

Veteran Pedro de la Rosa will make it two drivers over the age of 40 on the grid next year when he lines up with HRT. The Spaniard has signed a two year contract with the team which will certainly help them to move forward technically.

The team is owned by Thesan Capital and sees itself very much as the Spanish team in F1. De la Rosa has had a chequered career as a race driver in F1 with stints at Arrows and Jaguar and an ill fated stint at Sauber last year. He has been McLaren test driver and has a very close relationship with McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh.

“This is a very important step in my sporting career and one of the most meditated ones I’ve taken,” said De la Rosa. “I’m at a very good stage in terms of maturity and am prepared to take on this challenge, which motivates me hugely.

“When deciding on joining this project, for me there were three decisive factors: my desire to return to the active competition, the fact that HRT is a Spanish team and getting to know the people leading this project, Luis Perez-Sala being amongst them. I’m here to work hard, with modesty and humility, accepting where we are now but keeping in mind where we want to be in two years’ time.”

The move is likely to be the first of a number of driver announcements over the coming weeks, with Williams believed to be about to announce Kimi Raikkonen, Force India are due to announce their two drivers, with strong rumours that Nico Hulkenberg will get his chance, which means one of Adrian Sutil or Paul di Resta moving on.

Renault are expected to announce Romain Grosjean in one of the seats. It remains to be seen what Vitaly Petrov’s future is with the team.

At Virgin, soon to be renamed Marrussia, Charles Pic is expected by French colleagues to replace Jerome d’Ambrosio.

The great interest now will be to see who HRT partner De la Rosa with. Dan Ricciardo has been placed there since Silverstone this year by Red Bull. He is in competition with Jean Eric Vergne and the two imcumbents for the seats at Toro Rosso.

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118 Comments
  1. Left Philangie says:

    Dan to Toro Rosso please :)

  2. Jason Norwood says:

    What is it with all these old guys coming back??

    1. wayne says:

      His development knowledge and experieince with McLaren I presume. HRT are probably looking to use PD for a year to help them catch up with Lotus. I still maintain, however, that unlike Lotus, HRT are a waste of space, they bring nothing to the party what-so-ever. What was Virgin are somewhere between Lotus and HRT.

      1. wayne says:

        Why not Reubens? Surely he is a better driver, and just as experieineced in development? Everything being relative that is.

      2. alexyoong says:

        Barrichello is not going to stoop to HRT.

        Rubens is best advised to announce his retirement in Brazil before his fans. Irrespective of Kimi and his possible move to Williams. It feels like the right time to end a very decent career with dignity.

  3. Lopek says:

    Is the choice of driver so important to the development of the car in modern F1? If Barrichello and Williams this year is anything to go by I think isn’t that important any more.

    Barrichello made a huge amount out if this year being the first he has been able to guide the design direction & development of the car with his experience, and how we would see the effect of that… at least before the car hit the track!

    That being so, I think this is a poor short sighted decision by HRT. I think they’d get far more from a quick, hungry young driver, who also – if they got the contract right – they could sell onto a bigger, richer team.

    It’s also yet another example of F1 failing to develop the next generation of drivers leaving those well past the prime still filling seats. Time for compulsory young drivers in both Friday sessions – one race driver sitting out each one – imo.

    1. Ben says:

      Maybe Barrichello isn’t nearly as good as he thinks he is.

      I can see this makes a certain amount of sense for HRT but would still rather see someone young and hungry getting a chance.

    2. Daniel Gomes says:

      It amazes me that people still confuse car design and develop with car setup.

      Drivers are not engineers. They work together, but ultimately the engineers draw and develop the car’s core mechanical and aerodynamic features.

      The driver gives certain directives, but there’s nothing he can really do in this stage if just sit and watch. With the car ready, he’ll go out and test it and give feedback as to whether the car is driveable or not and if it can be faster by just adjusting the things that can be adjusted (ballast, wings, tyre camber and toe, etc, etc).

      If the car is a stillborn (like the 2009 McLaren or Ferrari), there’s nothing the driver can do but to try and extract the most out of the car.

      As far as I’m concerned, no one can really say whether Barrichello drove the car as fast and thoroughly as he could although I’m pretty sure he did as he have been doing for his whole career.

      Once and for all, drivers DO NOT “guide the design direction & development of the car”, but rather, give some input and ultimately uses the equipment that has been designed by a TEAM of capable people.

      1. Andrew Carter says:

        To an extent your wrong. It is the drivers that tell the engineers whether the new pieces work or not (corrolation between design and simulation tools and the track is never exact) and in what way. The skill from the drivers point is in determening in exactly what way a new piece as effected the car and comunicating that to the engineers, a reason why the relationship between a driver and his race engineer should never be underestimated. As for leading the development this is where a drivers particular driving style comes in, something that can make one driver go faster may hurt another (look at the 2008 Ferrari, where Massa was more assertive in the development of the car, the result being it was more understeery which hurt Raikkonen).

        Obviously a driver does not take full lead in development, but to underestimate their involvement is a mistake.

      2. Daniel Gomes says:

        So, where exactly am I wrong? You did say everything I just said with other words.

        Of course a driver with better communication and who understands the car better will lead to a better development by the enginners, but a car that was fundamentaly stillborn will never turn itself around just because of the driver input.

        That’s exactly what happened with Williams and that’s exactly why they cannot come to fore in 2011, even if Barrichello is, well, Raikkonen.
        Not to mention that for things to develop the way you make it seem they do, you’d need more testing, something that is just not available.

        Red Bull is a lightning fast car and that’s why they are winning everything. Vettel is good in keep the car winning, but he could NEVER turn a loser into a winner. That’s delusional.

        If we go by your thoughts, every single car in the grid is driven by poor communication drivers bar Red Bull and maybe Ferrari in Alonso. The other cars couldn’t really make a huge leap forward within the season and Williams is just like any of them.

        Bad cars lead to bad results. There’s now way around it unless you are Ayrton Senna.

      3. Andrew Carter says:

        Your first post made it sound like drivers are simply a case of ‘plug-in-and-play’ when its not. Also, at no point did I suggest that a car with a fundamental design flaw could be developed into a winner through the drivers skill alone, your putting words in my mouth.

        In this age of restricitve testing a drivers skill to quickly understand what developments have done to a car and to differentiate between them and simply setup and condition changes is invaluable to the engineers and probably more important now than when you could endlessely pound round the tracks.

        You said “They work together, but ultimately the engineers draw and develop the car’s core mechanical and aerodynamic features.” and while this is very much true, my point is that the development skills of the driver is very important to letting the engineers do their jobs to the best of their ability, so they are an imprtant link in the chain of developing a race.

      4. Darren says:

        Daniel, I understand what you are saying but a driver having that development ability. You said it yourself “unless they are Ayrton Senna”, yes Senna who was famous for having a great feel for how to make the car better and help the engineers do just that

      5. Daniel Gomes says:

        Darren, my point about Senna was not that he does what you just said, but that he usually outdrove cars that were simply dogs, like 1984′s Toleman or 1993′s McLaren. So, he could get results with bad cars, not turn them into GOOD cars.

    3. Daniel Gomes says:

      Another thing is that we live in a test restrictive era in F1, and so the driver has even less input in the ‘development’ of the car as opposed to back in 2000 when Ferrari tested the car practically every day of the year.

      They have to play catch up not only with other teams, but within their own cockpits whereas if you have unlimited testing you are actually leading the way, not trailing it.

    4. kidVermin says:

      Lopek I think you give drivers way too much credit when you speak about their input into the development of a car. Remeber that Drivers and Engineers speak different languages, one undestands vortices and airflow while the other understands understeer. DRivers with experience at the Top level are quick to understand the behaviour of a car and where they are most probably going to find speed (I assume), this information they are able to communicate much quicker to their engineers, whereas with a rookie sometimes it could be like playing Marco Polo (unless that Rookie is Alonso). I feel that the ban on testing is too severe and that some in-season testing should be introduced. MAybe at some of the select European races, where theres a fair gap to the next Grand Prix teams should be allowed to stay an extra number of days and test at those venues.

    5. forzaminardi says:

      I think its unfair to say DLR isn’t “hungry” just because he isn’t young too. He could have continued a very comfortable and no doubt well-remunerated career driving McLaren’s computers but he’s chosen to come back to race in a car which is virtually guaranteed to be a tail-ender. That takes some confidence and ‘hunger’ in my book.

  4. Joanna says:

    Williams about to announce?
    excuse me I must lie down

  5. Ross says:

    In terms of long term team development and Spanish sponsorship money it makes perfect sense for PDLR to return with HRT. However, I am interested in the knock on effect this move will have.

    It made sense for RBR to have Riccardio or Vergne in at HRT up against Liuzzi who is a solid midfield driver who has been through the RBR academy so they have a good idea just how good he is. This move suggest neither will be at HRT next year. Which is a shame as I’d hate to see presumably Buemi thrown on the scrapheap.

    Charles Pic has looked a good prospect this year but I do not see the point of Virgin/Marrussia hiring rookies and ditching them after one season. Di Grassi and d’Ambrosio have both done decent jobs as rookies against a highly rated Glock. Neither will likely get another look in at F1.

    1. Ross says:

      I may have just answered my own question. Jamie A in at the all Spanish HRT. Riccardio and Vergne in at STR and Buemi as RBR reserve driver.

      1. Maple56 says:

        Wickens outperforms all the “newer” talents like Vergne, Ricciardo and Pic and gets overlooked by commentators and pundits alike. He is young and a Champion. Its sad that when facts are overlooked and PR trivel is excepted as gospel.

      2. Andrew Carter says:

        Wickens couldnt even win at F2 and this year was what, his 4th or 5th attempt at Renault 3.5. He’s not bad, but Vergne and Ricciardo blow him away (Pic comes from a very rich family apparently).

      3. tim says:

        Agreed, Maple56. Wickens is overlooked for no good reason. He’s top calibre of the new crop but somehow isn’t considered.

      4. Maple56 says:

        Andrew Carter. Please get your facts straight. He came in second in his only year in F2 (lost to a spanish driver who had the money to spend on extra engineers). He won in FR3.5 in his second year. How many years has Ricciardo driven in the same formula, yes two and Wickens had the measure of him this year. Wickens was Vergne’s teamate this year. He tried a Schummy on RW (aka the year Villenueve beat out Schummy)and still lost out. Justice then, but probably not in the future.

    2. Simon Haynes says:

      Ricciardo has done very well against Liuzzi, and hasn’t he finished just about every race without incident? It would be great to see him in a Torro Rosso next year.

  6. I think it´s pretty safe to say, that a lot of people read it and thought: Whoa! What?

    I did NOT see that coming.

  7. Chris L says:

    James, I think Dani Clos will get the 2nd seat, a bit of a super Spanish dream team.

  8. goferet says:

    Ha, F1 is slowly turning into a national sport for only the Spanish team could hire a 40 year old Spanish journeyman just like Mercedes did with Schumi but at least Mercedes could justify their decision with Schumi’s stats.

    Me, I do not trust test drivers that have been sitting on the side lines for lone such as Pedro & Badoer for over time, you loose your edge just like soldiers that haven’t seen battle in a long time i.e. They become fat.

    Hmm, the only reason Kimi is returning to F1 is because he has run short of cash seeing as he was privately financing his WRC team.

    Hulkenburg & Grosjean – I no longer believe in second chances, Bruno, Luizi, Pedro, both the Indian drivers & Schumi have shown second chances are a waste of time.

    It will be sad if Sutil loses his seat more so as he’s been bringing in the results of late.

    I think both Torro Rosso drivers will keep their seats with Riccardo keeping his HRT drive for one more season.

    Drivers that should get fired ASAP – Webber, Maldonado and Massa.

    1. Andrew C. says:

      [mod]
      Kimi was paid more money by Ferrari than you’ll earn in your whole life not to drive. That’s on top of the money he earned while driving at the top of the list.

      Schumacher, Webber and Massa all remain in the top 10 of the championship. Who do you suggest shall replace them?

      Bruno Senna has proven a deserved second chance driver in a car that has fallen behind the pace setters.

      Somehow you failed to hammer Heidfeld although he hasn’t raced in half the season and remains in the top 10?

      regards,
      Andrew C.

      1. goferet says:

        @ Andrew C

        Yes Webber, Massa & Schumi still remain in the top 10 for luckily, their cars’ pace is out of range of the midfield

        Now I would replace Webber with one of the Red Bull protéges – most likely Riccardo – for Vettel has shown this season he’s way mature for his years.

        Schumi would get replaced by Di Resta, while I would replace Massa with Kobayshi.

        Bruno Senna hasn’t done enough to keep his seat in my view & lets not forget his age.

        Yes Kimi made lots of money in his career but he spent a lot in WRC & you know with the wealthy, there’s no such thing as having enough

      2. Peter Scandlyn says:

        Webber to Renault. Gives them more experience and opens up at Red Bull.

      3. James Allen says:

        No chance – he’ll end his career at RBR

      4. wayne says:

        Senna hasn’t proven anything to anyone, he is in the sport primarily because of his famous name while more deserving drivers sit out. He has had Petrov as a benchmark this year and not even lived up to that – we all know Petrov’s real level of tallent when placed against top drivers, he trails miserably. So if Senna cannot even routinely beat Petrov he has no place in an F1 seat.

      5. herowassenna says:

        +1

  9. Dave Roberts says:

    James, is this more about Pedro’s nationality and sponsorship than ability? Either way I hope he acquits himself well and I am sure that view will be a view largely held across the sport.

    On another theme I was rather surprised to read a few minutes ago a quote attributed to Eric Boullier about Robert Kubica which reads

    “We also need to make a plan if it (his recovery) is not going as planned, as I don’t want the team to be blamed. It was him who got me in trouble this year and now, if he can’t come back, he has to tell us about it.”

    It appears that Mr Boullier has run out of patience with Kubica. Do you have any thoughts on the situation?

    1. Aaron95 says:

      Well the lack of news about Robert’s recovery doesn’t suggest it is going well. If he were anywhere near being able to drive a car I’m sure we would have heard regular updates. Given the comments reported in last Friday’s Guardian, it sounds like Renault don’t know how it is going either.

      Eric Boullier, the Renault team principal, said. “I am waiting for him to tell me how he feels. I need a commitment from him.

      “We also need to make a plan if his recovery is not going as planned, as I don’t want the team to be blamed. It was him who got me in trouble this year and now if he can’t come back he has to tell us about it. We must not be stupid. We need a plan.”

      1. K says:

        Boullier: “It was him who got me in trouble this year”

        it also sounds like Eric Boullier has the special ability of talk in a disgusting manner.

  10. MAS says:

    I’m not pleased about seeing yet another old warhorse well past his prime take a seat a talented new driver could have gotten.

    I suppose HRT could use an experienced driver for his technical- and leadership qualities but that’s probably what Williams and Renault thought this season and look how well that went. Even if experience was a major factor though, surely there are better choices than de la Rosa?

    It would be a real shame if the new owners of HRT chose Pedro because of his Nationality while Algesuari may yet be out of a drive. Not that choosing a driver because of his nationality instead of his talent isn’t already pretty dumb. Also, two years? Really?

    Pedro seems nice and all but when you think about all the current drivers that may be out of a seat next year, never mind the up and comers from the lower formulae, can this really be called good news?

    1. C-M says:

      Pedro wasn’t bad previously when he filled in the McLaren. He achieved a couple of 2nd places i believe. So in a decent car he can still do the business.

      As for past his prime, I think it is a myth that an F1 driver needs to be between 20-35. There haven’t been any significant tests to show that anything needed for F1 drops dramatically into the 40s.

      Think about UFC, that requires infinity more physical ability than F1, yet a Randy Couture won the heavy weight title at the age of 47.

      1. Liam in Sydney says:

        UFC is hardly the pinnicle of gladatorial sport. If they were that good, they would be boxing. But more generally, your point is still well made.

  11. GT_Racer says:

    I know many here will likely critisise this move & poiunt out that Pedro has had a couple shots at F1 & seemingly never done enough to warrent anyone retaining him etc…

    However I think that Perdo is exactly what HRT need. He may not bring them stunning speed but he does bring them experience & is an exceptionally good driver when it comes to giving very precise & clear feedback which the engineer’s can put towards car development.

    Thats what HRT need, A driver that can give them everything they need to develop the car to assist them moving forward.

    They would also be smart to retain Daniel Ricciardo if he remains avaliable. A team of De La Rosa & Ricciardo would be perfect & Pedro would be a great team mate for a young driver like Ricciardo.

    1. Andrew Carter says:

      What car development? They cant afford any.

  12. F1 Sight says:

    This is a very strange move by the team. Money? He has already shown he is not that quick.

    1. zombie says:

      What money? Almost every bit of that car has stickers of Indian sponsors! I’m surprised they did not choose Chandhok. Does HRT have enough money to survive another season?

  13. herowassenna says:

    DLR, nice to see ambition at HRT!!!

  14. Chad85 says:

    James, after reading this, do you have insight on Kimi to Williams? Do you expect that block to fall next in drivers market?

  15. Richard D says:

    No offense to De La Rosa but it would’ve been much more exciting to see HRT blooding a youngster.

  16. Rob Newman says:

    De la Rosa is already past his sell by date. May be he is good on the technical side, but no more as a competetive F1 driver.

    1. herowassenna says:

      Rob,
      I don’t think he’s good at the technical side either.
      It always fascinated me, that when F1 had unlimited testing, for some reason Pedro, Panis and Wurz were considered the best test drivers in the world.
      I thought at the time, if that was true, why weren’t Mclaren dominating everything.
      Why when Panis went to Toyota, did the car not improve.
      Ferrari at the same time had Badoer testing their cars, yet despite him being a F3000 champion, he was given practically no credit for his job at all.
      The difference was Ferrari had Schumacher in the car, he directed the team.
      Alonso improved the 2007 Mclaren by 1/2 a second, not DLR.

      IMO, there has only been one truly great test driver, and his input was recognised by Mansell in his Championship year.

      That was Damon Hill. I always felt Hill was seriously under-rated, he went from Williams as Champion and turned Arrows around in 1997 and Jordan in 1998.

      Hakkinen only won in a dominant car, he proved nothing beyond his 2 seasons at Mclaren. Even there he had to have his first 2 wins handed to him!!

  17. Darren says:

    I can see the technical abilities of Pedro, and he will be a help with his knowledge of McLaren’s operations and how they go racing.

    However all that didn’t stop him getting dropped by Sauber. I can’t really see him being faster than Liuzzi or Ricciardo.

    I guess they feel his experience at this stage of team building, is more important than a few tenths in qualifying. I would like to see Ricciardo given some more time in the other seat.

    1. Phil says:

      I understand what you’re saying. But if Liuzzi or Ricciardo is always last, what difference does it make if PDR is slower? He’ll still come last either way, at least this way they get his technical working ability.

      1. Darren says:

        Yes, that’s what I was getting at when I was saying they’re trading a few tenths in quali for his experience.

    2. Simon Haynes says:

      Let’s be honest – HRT don’t need a fast driver, because a young gun with a whole second a lap advantage still wouldn’t get them off the back row of the grid.
      What they need is a faster car, and PDLR’s experience should be able to help there.

      1. K says:

        +1 on this.

    3. kidVermin says:

      Remember THe First team to get an F-Duct last yEAR after McLaren…

  18. Stefano says:

    pfff this is so sad! These small teams should support young talented drivers!

    And why is De La Rosa doing this???

    1. C-M says:

      Hunger, drive and ambition. Why does anyone enter F1?

  19. Roberto says:

    It´s interesting to see that most teams including the small ones are hiring or keeping experienced drivers, most probably because of the lack of testing and the fact that the “young guns” aren`t attractive yet to sponsors in a very difficult economic scenario. Williams maybe will change RB for KR, most probably for new money he will bring from sponsors, HRT hired de la Rosa, Caterham have JT and HK, Mercedes MS and NR and so on. Red Bull has a big problem because there Academy is feeding more drivers than the market can absorb. 15 years ago we had F3000 and F1, now we have F1, GP2, GP3, Nissan Series by Renault, A1 and counting, therefore there is a huge offer of drivers available, i remember also a time were the winner of the Macau GP could guarantee a seat for the following year in a good F1 team. It´s nice to see experienced drivers competing still at the highest level, but when the young ones will get experience if they have minimun opportunities to test and there are some drivers in their late 30´s and 40´s going around.

  20. PF says:

    It’s great to see Pedro back on the grid! Although it may be at the back of the grid he is just what HRT need to develope and move up the grid. His years with Arrows, Jaguar and Sauber will come in handy. But most of all his experience as a test driver since 2003 for McLaren. His wealth of experience will be welcomed at HRT. I wish him all the best for 2012!

  21. Mark J says:

    First up while I congratulate De la Rosa on the seat, I ask why? Yes he brings technical feedback, he is Spanish and maybe some sponsorship. But at the age of 40 will it be fun for him to drive around the back of the grid just to get his thrills as an F1 driver? I would always of thought driving some other machinery that would be competitive in LeMans or another series, along with the possibility of picking up some major wins elsewhere a more desirable option and he is still racing.

    That some opinion I would also apply to Barichello and another senior in the paddock.

  22. Interesting move from HRT. It might be good for them to keep Ricciardo on board as a yardstick?

    I wouldn’t mind seeing JEV doing another FR3.5 season coupled with running in FP1 for Toro Rosso.

    I feel a bit sorry for d’Ambrosio though. To more or less match Timo Glock is a significant achievement. I remember he ran very well in Singapore. As for Barrichello and Liuzzi, I think it’s time to go and I wouldn’t mind seeing them in the new World Endurance Championship.

    It does look like there is a resurgence of France as far as drivers are concerned. From none to, maybe, three (Grosjean, Pic, Vergne) is an interesting trend.

    Are we likely to see the return of a French GP?

    Is Renault Sport F1 pushing for a Frenchman in the sport?

  23. Onyx says:

    This news totally depresses me!There’s so much talent out there in GP2 and WSR and we have journeymen like de la Rosa getting a seat..good grief!
    F1 needs a real shake up-Vergne and Ricciardo in at STR..Wickens in somewhere..Grosjean with Senna at Lotus…Webber out…Massa out…Michael out…Trulli..Barrichello.. pack ‘em off to the DTM.

  24. Werewolf says:

    With Raikkonen, Sutil, Di Resta, Hulkenberg, Barrichello, Senna and ‘works’ team-backed Ricciardo, Vergne, Alguersari and Buemi all potentially chasing drives, Petrov sure misjudged the timing to upset Lotus-Renault. The odds can only get worse if Kubica or Bottas turn out to be genuine contenders too.

  25. Dan G says:

    James,

    Whats your gut say about Toro Rosso next year ?

    Do you think both DanR and JeanV will both get a ride next year in either TR or CAT/HRT ?

    1. James Allen says:

      The vibe from Young driver test was that JEV did a good job but wasn’t as stellar quick as DR was last year. That said the tyres were different and It was DR’s second go in a Red Bull car whereas this was Vergne’s first.

      1. Bullish says:

        James,
        Who would you choose for the two seats at Toro Rosso?

      2. James Allen says:

        Alguersuari and Ricciardo. The former has really done well second half of the season. The latter deserves his chance

      3. APUNOC says:

        Vergne did get a go in an STR last year didn’t he? So it was his 2nd year of experience like Riciardo got, just in a slightly different car.

        Most drivers don’t get a go at WCC car

      4. James Allen says:

        Close analysis of the data from Young Guns test showed that Vergne did not perform at the same level as Ricciardo last year – relative to Vettel.

  26. bones says:

    I can see why HRT is doing it,it makes sense to get a experimented driver to help them get the best set up and avoid waste of time and their limited resources.
    There are too many drivers for few available seats,can’t believe that Trulli is not losing his.
    James,when is the next time a new team can join F1?

  27. Chris Horton says:

    Glad to see Pedro coming back to F1, he’s a solid driver, all round nice guy and deserves his place on the grid.

  28. Steven says:

    PDLR Is not at HRT to “compete”, hes there to help them develop the car. His developing expirience with Maca can help a lot at HRT. And the fact that he has a 2 year contract means that he will have input into the car with the ne regs in 2013

  29. Davexxx says:

    I know I’ve tried to ask this before, with no response…
    Can someone tell me honestly what are the advantages to having someone like Kimi join a team like Williams at this point? I’m puzzled at the attraction from Kimi’s point of view. I know many drivers in the past have had to ‘settle for less’ when ousted by a big team (Damon Hill from Williams being one of many painful memories) but since Kimi has been out of it for awhile, if I were him I’d rather return in a better team or not at all.
    Don’t get me wrong, I have fond memories, and great hopes, for Williams, and I do like Kimi and would be happy to see him back in F1.
    But surely unless a miracle happens, how would he feel to – probably – do badly in such a poorly-performing car and team? Rubens has experienced that this year! It would just be deflating for Kimi to return to F1 and not do well.
    So can someone, objectively, tell me how his returning to F1 via Williams will be good for the team and its car’s performance? If the experienced Rubens was unable to give the engineers enough useful feedback to help improve the car, what else could Kimi do?

    1. RodgerT says:

      Next years car won’t be the same as this years car, new power plant, new technical team. So this years results will have almost no bearing on the potential of what they put out on track next year.

      Let’s also consider that Kimi could be looking to be the one to help bring the team back in from the wilderness. If you’re a proven driver who wants back in when all of the seats are filled in the top teams, why not go to a team that was once one the top, and try to bring them back up the grid?

    2. Martin says:

      I guess there are two things:
      Kimi might feel that driving an F1 car on the limit feels pretty good and is more of a thrill than the low-gs every bend a potential crash world of rallying. I’d put up with the media for the F1 cars given the choice :-)

      For Williams, they would be getting a guy that Ferrari got because he was quicker than Schumacher. In Barrichello they have someone who was usaully slower than Schumacher. I think it is belief in the talent.

      The car performance comes from the engineering team. The driver isn’t really going to be able to tell aero engineers with CFD software how to get more downforce from a wing. He can say that having a certain level of compliance and rake in the car feels like it works, and therefore influence the package and engineering direction slightly, but it is pretty minimal in my view.

      I think Williams has the view that it should get the best #1 driver it can from an on-track performance view, and it thinks Kimi is the answer. Having brought in a new engineering team, the last thing they’d want to do is hand over design authority to the driver.

      Cheers,

      Martin

    3. kidVermin says:

      Until I saw the Equity reports I was of the Belief that Williams represented a springboard seat, maybe for a RedBull drive, Kimi’s chance to show RedBull that he’s lost none of his speed.

    4. Andy C says:

      In my view it could be a very good move. Despite the lasting image of kimi being lazy etc and not interested, lets not forget the Ferrari engineers at one point could not believe how quick kimi was in the car (way beyond what they thought its potential was – James, was that at the back end of 09?)

      It may also allow Williams to pick up a large title sponsor deal with the Qatari national bank, and give them more money to bould up the back end of the team again.

      There are many reasons to be positive at Williams. Lets just hope that they work out.

    5. F12010 to kill time until March says:

      Kimi will get the seat if he wants it.

      He is positioning himself for a topseat in 2013. RBR, Mclaren, Merc or what ever seat he wants.

  30. I think de la Rosa might have a lot to bring to HRT. Having the role of reserve (test) driver at McLaren, which is a front-running team, de la Rosa might come with some tips about design and aerodynamics for next year. I think Ricciardo will get booted off HRT but not out of Formula 1. I see a bright future for both Ricciardo and de la Rosa.

  31. JohnBt says:

    Tough one to comment as I was hoping to see new young talents fill the seats of the much older drivers. But I don’t mind Kimi coming back.

  32. Sam says:

    I have always liked the way Pedro has gone about his business. In the late 90′s and early 2000′s I always thought he was a solid driver and was really happy for him when he landed the Mclaren role.

    Like other people had mentioned, I always thought he would pursue competitive racing and strive for success in other classes of racing and enjoy his McLaren role as a supplement to that.

    His racing returns, with McLaren in one offs and Sauber, were dissappointing as I felt his fundamental pace just isn’t there anymore and with so many quick exciting drivers out there trying to get their foot in the door it’s a real shame for F1 that HRT have taken this option up.

    I think PDLR has had his opportunities as a race driver – There might be some worth in engaging him for his technical knowledge in the pits but certainly I don’t see the benefit of having him race the car when their are quicker and more exciting drivers out there.

    I am extremely excited at the prospect of adding a sixth world champion to the grid – Please sign Kimi Sir Frank!

    James, if KR is signed to Williams will the grid in 2012 contain the greatest number of WDC’s sharing the track ever in F1 history?

    1. James Allen says:

      Yes, there would be 6 – never happened before

      1. Phil C says:

        There would also be every World Champion from 2000 on the grid – Schumacher (2000 – 04) Alonso (05-06) Kimi (07) Hamilton (08) Button (09) and Vettel (2010 – 2011)

      2. Heinzman says:

        Mika to Renault

      3. Davexxx says:

        If it happens, sounds like you have your ideal 2012 Book Cover Photo right there James!! ;-)

  33. Jodum5 says:

    I’m actually happy for Pedro. I never cared for him while driving but I’m glad to see him in a car again. Looks like Liuzzi will be getting the shaft again.

  34. Monktonnik says:

    Not really a big fan of DLR, but I can see the logic of this from both sides. If he brings money as well then so be it.

    As the market shifts it would be a shame to lose Rubens, Petrov, Senna or Ricciardo. You would have to say that the Torro Rosso pair also deserve their place on the grid as well. I know few will agree with me but, whilst I understand why Williams want Kimi back I am just not that excited about this. I think Ferrari should have kept him alongside Alonso rather than Massa, but it was not as though he was doing much in his last couple of seasons really.

  35. Wel says:

    Everyone above 35 should be excluded from driving F1, don’t care how much talent they have.

    The young talented drivers are sitting by the sideline watching these old farts do nothing special.

    If you haven;t achieved anything until your 35th, tough luck.

    :P

    1. Martin says:

      Wouldn’t a number of career starts and a first F1 race date be a bit fairer? Not everyone has rich dads to start them in karting at 8.
      Damon Hill only got into F1 at 32 and his title at 36.

    2. Andy C says:

      I’m sure your comment is meant in jest, but surely you cant be serious. F1 should be about talent, not what their age is.

      Despite having been rusty last year, Michael has shown hes more than capable of teaching the new guys a thing or two.

      In all likelyhood the experienced Spanish driver requirement is probably pivotal to them recieving sponsorship (and lets face it, Fernando is busy ;-). Rumours of Repsol sponsorship.

    3. quest says:

      Why don’t you put your money where your mouth is. Make a commitment that you will give up whatever career you have when you get to 35 in favor of a “younger talent” in your field.

      After that, maybe you can take up the cause of young F1 hopefuls. :)

  36. Ram says:

    hope this works … but still is PDLR all that worth it .. a year back Sauber hired him and ditched him half way thru … because he could not keep up with KK.. Hope better sense prevails and they sign up a hot new exicting talent as his partner.

  37. Robin says:

    We should start at a movement called “Occupy the Midfield” where F21 fans sit on the grid in Melbourne until some young drivers get seats.

    More seriously James, I think this business of why there are so many “experienced” drivers is another great idea for some off-season in-depth analysis. We know the cars are easier to drive and more reliable than long ago, we know it’s safer and athletes generally are training smarter to extend careers and we know about the lack of testing these days. But can it really it’s best to have 40 something journeymen over GP2 winning youngsters? Is it that the sponsors are all aging boomers? What’s the big picture here?

    1. James Allen says:

      Good idea – it’ll be a long winter!!

  38. Prisoner Monkeys says:

    Honestly, I’m not too keen on the idea of Raikkonen returning. I always found him to be pretty flat and boring. And I think it would be a mistake by Williams; signing Raikkonen would drive their share price up, but Raikkonen’s departute would send it spiralling, and rumours suggest that he only wants to spend a year at Williams. So unless he could miraculously put them further up the grid (and after two years on the sidelines, I very much doubt he could), Williams will pay at the end of the year if he does move on.

    However, with the talk of him wanting to buy a stake in the team, perhaps we could see him buy into Williams, and then take full control once Sir Frank retires. Kind of like with Prost taking control of Ligier, but it would have to be done much more effectively.

    1. C-M says:

      The one thing with Raikkonen is that you know he will drive the balls of a milkfloat if that’s what he’s given.

      He will give Williams a true benchmark as to the real speed of their car, more so than Rubens or Pastor could do.

      1. Prisoner Monkeys says:

        I don’t think so.

        During the Rally France-Alsace, Raikkonen crashed into Henning Solberg on the liason stage. Based on reports of the accident, his car was simply immobilised, and could have been restarted. Raikkonen probably could have made it to the next passage control with nothing more than a late time penalty. At the very worst, he would have been forced to restart under super-rally regulations. And yet, he did not. Within an hour of the accident taking place, he was already going home to Geneva, leaving his team manager to explain what was happening. And then he did it again in Catalunya when he retired with a simple mechanical fault.

        That’s hardly “driving the balls off a milkfloat”. It sounds suspiciously like Raikkonen giving up the moment it became apparent he was going to have to work for a result. Given Williams’ current situation, Raikkonen’s behaviour does not bode well for the team.

      2. C-M says:

        You sound familiar to those F1 watchers that said he wasn’t performing in at Ferrari in his last two years – when everyone in the Ferrari camp claimed how astounded they were at the performance he was getting out of that car.

        The truth is only Kimi knows how motivated he is, so any of us commentating on that is just a waste of time

  39. Paul says:

    ..absolutely appalled at all of the ageist remarks here.
    This is a brilliant acquisition for HRT – massive value-add for the team. They will get alot from this engagement. Where do you think in today’s HRT business model would it be beneficial for two young inexperienced rookies to take both seats? I think the ultimate combination is both a young talent, and an experienced driver to help guide the feedback on the performance of the machinery and team operations.
    It is well documented that being over 40 is not the end of the world for an F1 driver.

    1. James Allen says:

      Us over 40s have to stick together….

      1. drums says:

        Was not a chap called Juan Manuel Fangio who won 5 WDC from his 40s on? (JMF, June 24, 1911 – July 17, 1995. JMF’s WDCs: 1951, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1957) ;<D

      2. DingBat says:

        +1
        Reading some of these comments makes me feel like I need to book into an old age home..lol.

        If he has something to offer HRT then it needs to be exploited. Lets face it, HRT will not be fighting for championships for a while yet, their main aim should be to improve the car and get it ready for future young guns so that they have a fighting chance and what better way than an experienced test driver who’s worked for a top team. Good choice I say.

  40. Janis says:

    Talking about driver movements: Russian businessman Antonov owned Snoras bank (nominally Lithuanian) is in deep trouble. Lithuanian government has taken it over, and is accusing bank management of all kinds of illegal dealings.
    As we all know, Renault team has (had?) a rather close connection with Snoras, and even featured a very visible Snoras logo on their cars.
    I am wandering how it will affect Petrov’s chances of a drive next year. He could be in trouble…

  41. Andrew says:

    I like De la Rosa but given that Sauber binned him last year it hardly suggests that he fastest man on the planet. I see the logic for any team up and down the grid to hire 1 experienced driver and 1 youthful driver. The experienced driver develops the car, uses his head in tricky races and sets up the car for the weekend. The younger less experienced driver is cheaper, more bold behind the wheel and pushes the older driver to keep him earning his paycheck. I think that De La Rosa has had his chances but not performed so what’s the point?

    I think next year will be the big year of changes up and down the field with Ferrari looking to replace Massa, Webber in doubt, Schumacher’s contract up, Trulli needing to stop banging on about his crap ‘Power steering’ issues and I cannot imagine Lewis will be keen to hang around at Mclaren if their car has got issues.

  42. forzaminardi says:

    James, moving on from de la Rosa himself, do you see any chance now for Rubens to have a 20th year as an F1 driver?

    1. James Allen says:

      Doesn’t look like it, but he didn’t think he had a seat in 2009 and he won races with Brawn that year!

  43. Blaize says:

    I’am so dissapointed by this decision. F1 over the last 15 years has had some drivers well and trulli outstay their welcome. Heidfeld is a nice guy and was once a promising talent in the sport. But he never impressed enough in the slower midfield car to ever get the chance in a front runner.

    You only have to look at 3 other drivers who all started about the same time and are all now in top teams to see that Nick just sadly wasn’t good enough. These being Alonso(2001) and Massa&Webber(2002).

    Just like Nick, Pedro has had his chance and is only being given another because of the fact he is Spanish. I dont understand this decision at all. If they wanted a Spanish Driver they should of given Dani Clos a chance from GP2. He finished 11 times in the Top 10 this year and twice in 2nd place. Also in 2010 he Won and had a Pole Position. These arn’t the most amazing statistics but they are good enough for HRT in my opinion.

    Getting away from Pedro the one decision made earlier this year that left fuming was Jarno Trulli at Lotus(Caterham). 2012 will be, and this might shock some of you, Jarno Trulli’s 16th Year in F1. He’s been at it for 16 years and has had probably only had two years where he was good enough to be at the front. Mainly due to having a good car. The fact that Jarno got the nod over someone like Karun Chandok is beyond me. Karun is clearly just as good in that car. He Proved that in Germany. All he’s missing is race experience in an F1 car that isn’t like driving a wild bull.

    One final thing. Barrichello. Love this man but even he has more than had his chance. There isnt anything else he can achieve and i will not be terribly sad to see him go. I actually wouldnt have minded seeing him leave in 2008 because it meant we would have seen Bruno senna in the Brawn. Which means Bruno Senna’s career would have been dramatically different. He would probably have race wins under his belt and be driving for one of the big 3 teams. Instead thanks to experience Rubens got to have one last hurrah before fading away in a terrible williams.

    F1 Bosses stop employuing older drivers based soley on experience and nothing else.

    *Sorry for the long post*

    1. Spinodontosaurus says:

      In 2001, in a Sauber, Heidfeld beat Raikkonen as teamates, and did the same in 2002 to Massa, and to Kubica in 2007 and 2009 for that matter.

      1. Blaize says:

        True, but he didn’t show the excitement any of those drivers have. He is a very good driver but he has never shown anything more than being just very good and to drive for the top teams you need something else. Even Massa had it in 2002, he was wild and exciting to watch. His Ferrari testing obviously helped but still he did more exciting and standout things (good or bad) in the 2002 season than Heidfeld ever did throughout his entire career.

  44. Sossoliso says:

    I suspect HRT will have DR and JEV sharing the other HRT Car next Season.

    With that in mind, how many Drivers will HRT use Next Year? Answers on an A4 please.

  45. Waz says:

    All of Australia is holding our breath for a DR drive in a STR. He can drive. Go Dan.

  46. Andrew Carter says:

    After reading this my only question is Why? De la Rosa has never been that quick and at best acn be described as a journeyman. But also why would he want to driver for HRT, there slow and have lost Geoff Willis as tech directer and failed to replace him with Jorg Zander because they couldnt guarante a development budget, which automatically means PDLR best skill, development, will never be used.

    Probably a bad move on both sides.

  47. gonzeche says:

    I remember Pedro saying last year (when rejoining McLaren after being dropped by Sauber) that he felt closer to F1 (and therefore prefered) being a test driver in a leading team/car rather than having a driving seat ‘in a team like HRT, just for the sake of being able to say that I am a F1 driver’ (literal).
    NOW Pedro is feeling on him the big pull of time ticking away…

  48. PNWBrit says:

    Has anyone mentioned yet… he’s probably also very cheap.

  49. Richard D says:

    Bring back Stirling Moss!

  50. Simon van leuven says:

    If I were williams I would take Kimi and then lean on Renault to cut a deal with redbull for ricciardo for 1 to 2 years. They are in desperate need of 2 not 1 very quick driver. I don’t think they have anything to loose. They may lack a bit of strong leadership with this pairing…..(as in technical direction) But it is no worse than what they have. Yes money does have a lot to do with it but the underlying bottom line is……both of them will drive the wheels of the thing. If I were williams I would be this bold.

  51. Vida says:

    With teams are going to announce their driver, what is the latest on Williams-Kimi?

  52. Rico says:

    There are lots of rumours that the Kimi-Williams deal won´t come true. Do you have some information about that?

    1. James Allen says:

      I think it’s down to money, the money Frank Williams is chasing in Qatar right now. He’s been camping there for over five weeks, which gives you an idea of how important the deal is to Williams

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