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De la Rosa move to HRT the first of a raft of driver announcements
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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There are lots of rumours that the Kimi-Williams deal won´t come true. Do you have some information about that?


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


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


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.


Bring back Stirling Moss!


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


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…


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.


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


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.


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*


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.


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.


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?


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


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.


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…


..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.


Us over 40s have to stick together….



Reading some of these comments makes me feel like I need to book into an old age

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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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


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?


Good idea – it’ll be a long winter!!


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.


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.



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. 🙂


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.


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.


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.


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.


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?


Yes, there would be 6 – never happened before


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


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)


Mika to Renault


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.


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.


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?

F12010 to kill time until March

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.


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.


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.


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.




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?


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

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