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De la Rosa bags second Sauber seat
De la Rosa bags second Sauber seat
Posted By: James Allen  |  19 Jan 2010   |  12:05 pm GMT  |  107 comments

Pedro de la Rosa has pulled off a major coup and landed the second seat at BMW Sauber. He will be team mate of exciting rookie Kamui Kobayashi.

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For the 38 year old Spaniard it is a case of third time lucky, having had one career with Arrows and Jaguar and then a brief cameo as a McLaren driver when the team dropped Juan Pablo Montoya in 2006. “I always firmly believed I would be given another chance as a team driver,” said De la Rosa.

Sauber has been looking to hit the right balance between a driver with some money and one who can bring real racing benefits to the team. De la Rosa did not have the largest backing of the potentials out there nor is he the fastest of the options Sauber had. He has around €1 million budget from Universia, which is a foundation set up by Banco Santander. Sauber has clearly hired him for his technical ability, which will help Kobayashi to fulfil his maximum potential.

“Pedro has spent many years working for a top team at the highest technical level,” said Peter Sauber “We as a team stand to gain from his experience, and the same goes for young Kamui. The combination of a seasoned racer and an up-and-coming young driver has repeatedly proved a very fruitful one. I don’t expect either of them to disappoint in 2010. Of course it is also crucial that we provide them with a decent car; I feel positive about our.. progress on that front too. We were able to continue work on our 2010 car as scheduled throughout the recent period of uncertainty.”

De la Rosa was outstanding in the junior categories but never quite translated that into performance in F1. He raced for Arrows in 1999 and 2000 and then drove for Jaguar in 2001 and 2002. He became a test driver for McLaren and held that role until this announcement. He raced nine times for McLaren, the highlight being second place behind Jenson Button in the 2006 Hungarian GP, the race where he had a set to with Michael Schumacher.

Sauber will unveil the new car and drivers in Valencia on 31 January.

Like Schumacher De la Rosa will stand out among his peers as a pretty old driver, and the dynamic in drivers briefings will be interesting as De la Rosa was very critical of Schumacher after he was charged with deliberately blocking the track in qualifying Monaco that same year.

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Hi James,

This week’s Autosport magazine contradicts your assertion that de la Rosa wasn’t offering the most money. The magazine says that de la Rosa had far more cash available to pay for the seat than Fisichella and his Ferrari backing. Do you stand by your statement?

Still love the column by the way!

Cheers, Simon




Blimey! Glad I was sitting down when I read this.


This is a decision that I am still not totally convinced is the right one, but Peter Sauber is not a foolish guy so I will give him the benefit of the doubt. Its true that De La Rosa has years of test experience with McLaren under his belt, but so did Luca Badoer with Ferrari and that ended in tears. To Badoer’s credit atleast, Fisichella didn’t do all that much better, which proved just what a ‘challenge’ the 2009 Ferrari was.

I found De La Rosa’s performances for McLaren in 2006 fairly encouraging, considering that even then he had not raced properly for years. He came into the fray following the debacle of the US Gp inwhich Montoya and Raikkonen both crashed on the opening lap, to a car that was not all that better than last year’s effort.

Alot of purists will also remember De La Rosa’s significent role in McLaren’s 2007 Spygate row, inwhich it was alleged that the Spaniard discussed the stolen Ferrari data with copatriot Fernando Alonso.

Nick Heidfeld, for all his years racing, has never matched the expectations with results. Of the two BMW Sauber drivers last year, he certainly cut the more lonely figure, still yet to win a grands prix. I still hold out hope for him, but he is running out of options and that is worrying for the German.


Dear steve,

It is an opinion… but simplistic. It is like saying that the father that kills his sons murderer, is the same as the unibomber.

Senna was robbed of the 1989 title by balestre and prost, and saw that the same was going to happen in 1990. He was just not going to let that happen again. He was willing to do anything to avoid that. And he even admited afterwards why he did it. That shows some courage i think.

Christopher Snowdon

This is most unsauber like, with all due respect to De La Rosa, we know he’s not cut out to race F1 cars. Testing is a different kettle of fish, how many great testers make great drivers and vice versa?

The only example that springs to mind is Schumacher.


Really? I’m not so sure I’d have MS down as a great tester. Didn’t he take Barrichello’s set-up a fair few times during their Ferrari years? I know Barrichello is regarded highly on set-up, but their driving styles are completely different.


James, lot of people thought that Klien might just have this seat. Now that the seat is with Pedro, what does future have in store for Klien? Any idea?

P.S.- Its a shame that drivers like Davidson, Klien and Heidfeld are yet to find a seat!


He’s been considered for Renault, whether he will get it I don’t know. Petrov has a strong case with good GP2 results and a good budget.


It’s pretty easy to see why Sauber wouldn’t hire Fisichella – if a Ferrari seat opens up, he’s outta there. If he’s hiring a professional tester, it’s probably for a multi-year development program.


Good show!


I’m betting a fiver on Heidfeld going to McLaren as test driver.

I’m also making the ludicrous claim, with absolutely no evidence whatsoever, that Renault is closed off to him as part of Kubica’s agreement to stay.

James…. any gossip to suggest either could be true or am I starting it?


Let’s hope Paffet tests on day 1 for McLaren at Jerez & then hope McLaren sign Paul di Resta to replace De La Rosa. True Brit Pack at McLaren then ! 🙂


james, i have seen lately people like martin brundell criticizing the senna way of driving. Everybody seems to be pro-prost nowadays. I know most of the followers on your page have not seen senna driving, but it seeems absurd to talk with todays mentality, of what happened 20 years ago. It is difficult to understand, but what happened there was war, between two of the best drivers in the history of the sport, and senna was driving against the fia as well. what is your opinion on that one.


I saw Senna drive. I saw him drive intentionally into Prost at Japan in front of the entire field. It was the most unsportsmanlike, dirty tactic ever exibited in F1. It dwarfs what Piquet Jr. did. Senna also loved to play the victim card.


I watched that incident on Youtube the other day, absolutely crazy. Everyone knew he was going to do it. Schumacher nudged into Villenueve in a slow corner at Jerez and the whole F1 world goes crazy. He was rightly punished of course but Senna was just as ruthless if not more so.


I worked with both of them and they were amazing people to deal with. It was very political between them, they were both very competitive and Prost had the then FIA president Balestre on his side. Senna took risks which others found unacceptable. He was a controversial driver but he was undoubtedly the best I’ve ever seen


it would be interesting to see what the young generation of fans think about that war. I see that they are starting to feel cheated by rhe regulations, the circuits, etc

They have been grown in a politically correct society, but when they see cars banging wheels, like at interlagos, they seem to like it, and support it.

Are the fans fed up with so many restritions? I know i am, but i grew up when there weren’t any.


Hi James, I am suprised that you said that. I thought you think Schumacher was the best ever. Anyway, that’s your opinion and you know more than us.


Schumacher is the most successful, but Senna is the best I ever saw. Can’t speak for the guys from the 50s and 60s, because I never saw them race.


Surely his greatest moment was the Bahrain GP – his return to the cockpit during Montoya’s “injury”-enforced absence.

So Rubens Barrichello will go from oldest to 3rd oldest driver in F1. It remains true that hardly anyone is oldest driver for two years running…


He is great character and very technically capable, I wish him the very best.

What nobody seems to comment is the fact that this a very, I insist VERY , bad news for McLaren. Inside info tell us that LH is the not sharpest knife in setting a F1 car.

His first year used to copy FA and later on I have been told that de la Rosa was very helpful in doing that.

JB is no help either, RB was doing the settings in Brawn.

James any reactions from McLaren on this?


Inside info Francisco ? Let me guess…Marca and AS !


If I need to find some info MARCA/AS would be at the bottom of my list (that is a big if). I am afraid these guys have an agenda very unique.

A friend of a friend works for McLaren.


Well he was a rookie wasn’t he? He would be stupid not to use some of Alonso’s set ups. Even experienced drivers using their team mate’s set ups aren’t uncommon.


I think Fisi would have been a far better option than De La Rosa. Yes, he struggled a bit in last year’s Ferrari, but if you look at his career, he has always done pretty well and punched above his weight in midfield teams. He has bags of experience and hasn’t had the lay-off from driving which De La Rosa suffered with the test restrictions. I’m guessing De La Rosa might be bringing a few quid more?

Demetrios (aka D.)

James, on an unrelated matter … I am going to Montreal for the race, 2nd time there (2006 was the first one, seems I go there whenever there is a World Cup going on also). I had a great time in ’06, met Jarno Trulli at a party, then ran into Nico Rosberg at the airport after the race, had a chat w/ him and took a couple of photos (he was not in a good mood as he had crashed out of the race). My question to you is: can you provide a couple of names for restaurants in Montreal where I might run into one (or more) of the F1 celebrities, including yourself ? In ’06 I recall reading that the entire Renault contingency (Flavio, Alonso, etc, etc) had gone out to an Italian restaurant in the downtown district, on Thursday night. I would seriously appreciate any such information you might be able to provide.

Mike from Medellin, Colombia

What about Newtown – Jacques Villenueve’s place?


I guess it must be money, Heidfield has been let down.

Talking of money, when do the teams have to start conforming to a budget? Obviously no this year since McLaren have spent several times the $50M which was proposed.

If they spend more this year developing KERS to be used next year, what year’s budget does that come in?


A waste of a seat. Lovely bloke, but I don’t see that he’ll bring anything to the party save for some midfield accidents.


It’s a shame about that, as I think Fisichella would have been the better option. Fisi performed superbly last time he was at Sauber.

Having said that De la Rosa can’t be bad at development because McLaren have developed some fast cars during his tenure. OK last year’s started out as a dog, but developed a great deal during the season.


I can only think its a budget thing. I just feel so sorry for Ant Davidson, and possibly Heidfeld if he doensn’t get a chance. I’ll be amazed if DLR isn’t a low wattage returnee like Wurz was, and to some extent Villeneuve.


be sure about it. But what a fabulous new years present. lucky devil…


I am really surprised.

I truly hope to see Heidfeld at Renault.


Seems a backward step to me,there must be better drivers out there.Interesting that they will be using Ferrari engines and technology,as he was one of the main people involved in the spying saga and got away scot free.


I’m sure they’ve signed him because he comes with free technical knowledge and will not waste a second wondering if he should share it.

I can almost hear emails being sent now.

I’m also wondering how this will effect McLarens testing. PDLR was the lead tester, now it’ll be up to the more inexperienced Paffet to set the car up ready for the ‘superstars’ to take over.


Haha! Isn’t it amazing how his role in Spygate and what seemed like his obsession with the Ferrari data has been forgotten


can you say ‘PAY DRIVER.’ Lets see what sponsors he puts on the car…Pedro Dinitz all over again…Pedro drover for Peter Sauber so we know that Peter ‘gets’ the whole pay driver thing.

Roger Carballo AKA Archtrion

I’m waiting for you when PDR crushes the Jap driver, as he used to do when he won Nippon formula. Just remember what are you saying now. I will come back 🙂


Comfortably the weakest driver line up so far announced for next year.


Agreed. Kobayashi is no better than Nakajima, and will be shown the door to F1 within two years like Kazuki.

de la Rosa was excellent for Arrows but since joining Jaguar never really fulfilled his potential. He had some decent races at McLaren but it was one of the best cars on the grid and he should have got more out of it.

It will be the weakest lineup until USF1 and Campos confirm their drivers


>> He had some decent races at McLaren but it was one of the best cars on the grid and he should have got more out of it.

I keep hearing something to this tune over and over again, but I don’t think it is true. Race results in 2006 show that he got at least as much out of ‘one of the best cars on the grid’ as Montoya did. I remember watching those final races of the 2006 season and PDLR was easily the most entertaining driver on the grid.

I for one wish him well.

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