Pedro de la Rosa makes F1 comeback with BMW Sauber

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Pedro de la Rosa joins BMW Sauber after seven years with McLaren

BMW Sauber has confirmed Pedro de la Rosa will make a return to F1 in 2010 with the team.

De la Rosa will partner Japanese team mate Kamui Kobayashi.

De la Rosa said:

I always firmly believed I would be given another chance as a team driver. Since the number of test drives were radically reduced, this was what I was working towards.
Pedro de la Rosa

Peter Sauber expects de la Rosa’s experience to aid Kobayashi, who has made just two F1 starts:

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 in-house progress on that front too. We were able to continue work on our 2010 car as scheduled throughout the recent period of uncertainty.
Peter Sauber

The Spanish driver’s last F1 start was for McLaren at Interlagos in 2006. He spent half that season substituting for Juan Pablo Montoya.

According to Joe Saward, de la Rosa’s deal is being backed by a network of universities called Universia.

De la Rosa has had a patchy career in F1 which began when he scored a point on his debut for Arrows at Melbourne in 1999.

He spent two years with them and a further two with Jaguar. It’s fair to say he failed to capture the imagination of Spanish fans the way Fernando Alonso did when he had his breakthrough season for Renault in 2003, while de la Rosa was on the sidelines.

De la Rosa earned a reputation as a dependable test driver while at McLaren. He and Alonso were briefly team mates at McLaren in 2007, when both were implicated in the ‘spygate’ episode.

The expertise de la Rosa garnered as a test driver was put to use by the designers of the Motorland Aragon circuit, which I interviewed him about last year.

His years of experience will make him an excellent benchmark for Kobayashi. But you could have said the same about Nick Heidfeld, and in many ways it’s a surprise to see de la Rosa get the seat instead of the German, who has driven for the team in six seasons of F1.

Pedro de la Rosa joins BMW Sauber

Pedro de la Rosa at the BMW Sauber factory

Image (C) BMW Sauber

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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60 comments on “Pedro de la Rosa makes F1 comeback with BMW Sauber”

  1. Glad for Pedro , he watched patiently wondering if his f1 racing career was over and the lack f test opportunities last year meant very little running time .
    what now for Nick Heidfeld ?

    1. Penelope Pitstop
      19th January 2010, 10:57

      Heidfeld may not be Championship-caliber, but he does have plenty of experience, and usually brings the car home in one piece. But it looks like he’s running out of options, which could be a blessing for USF1…

  2. I think this perhaps confirms one of two things about Heidfeld – he’s retiring or going back to Renault. I can’t see him becoming a test driver for Merc, he’s too old and will surely have to accept that as a virtual retirement.

    I’m pleased to see PDLR back in F1. Many say that he ‘has had his chance’ but I don’t see that personally. He was in a good McLaren for two seasons when the car wasn’t designed for him and raced like a beast when he was given the chance and from memory was extremely entertaining too! Given Fisichella’s lacklustre couple of seasons I think PDLR was the right choice. Fisi was extremely quick back in the day, but thats a good 10 years back now!

  3. Good luck Pedro, although I fear he might be too slow. However, with a new chance, he might seize it by the scruff of the neck, like he did when he replaced JPM. He should be able to get some points this year.

    I’m surprised at this news because yesterday it was said he would be the first to test the new McLaren – I assume that this will stay the same? After all, there’s no in-season testing, and should a vacancy arrive, they always have Gary Paffett. Mind you, Sauber are close to Ferrari (I would have preferred Fisichella to get the drive), so maybe McLaren will release him.

  4. It looks as though there could be more Spaniards (3) than Brits (2) on the grid next season- I doubt that’s ever happened before.

    You’d have to say that de la Rosa has been incredibly lucky to sustain a 12 year career in F1 with a pretty limited ability. Who honestly thought when he was scraping around at the back of the grid being beaten by Jos Verstappen and Eddie Irvine that he would still be around the following a decade later? Not me.

    1. Do you think Mclaren car set ups will be affected in any way because of his departure? Who is gonna be doing the testing job for Lewis?

  5. Does anyone know who’s going to be the first man to put the MP4-25 through the paces on Monday 1st Feb. then?
    I’m going to the test in Valencia on Tuesday 2nd when Lewis is thought to be testing and I don’t want Pedros’s leaving to create a shakeup in the schedule.
    Congrats to Pedro by the way. Another Spaniard to cheer for other than Fred is not a bad thing.

  6. Prisoner Monkeys
    19th January 2010, 11:08

    I suspect de la Rosa has been taken on because he’s not the fastest driver in the world. Odd as that my sound, look at it like this: whatever you think of them, drivers like Nick Heidfeld and Pedro de la Rosa have been in the sport for a long time, and thei careers are going to wind down sooner rather than later. But Sauber have Kamui Kobayashi, whose career is only just beginning, and he’s impressed a lot of people. I might not have jumped on the Bandwagon of Lucirious Praise, but I do think he is Japan’s best hope for a good driver.

    So Sauber takes de la Rosa to make Kobayashi look better. Nick Heidfeld has a reputation for destorying team-mates, and if he were to do it to Kobayashi, it might spell disaster for the Cowboy’s career. And then where would we be? Nick Heidfeld, retiring after another year or two, and Kamui Kobayashi, his career stunted after being bested by Heidfeld. But Kobayashi stands a better chance a success agaisnt de la Rosa, which is why I think the Spaniard has been taken on: because Peter Sauber is planning for the future of his team, and he wants to give that team every chance of success. And Kamui Kobayashi is his best hope for that.

    1. Interesting point PM. One flaw is that Kimi, Massa and Rob all were beaten by Nick and they have all done well for themselves. I actually do think you may have a very valid point however and if it was just down to pace most would back Nick over Pedro.
      It’s an alright lineup for Sauber. Kobayashi is aggressive and has flair but it could end in a few retirements in the first year and Pedro will need to be solid to get the points.
      I expect Bianchi could want a crack at a Sauber seat in the future depending upon his GP2 success.
      I’m hoping for Nick to Renault although I’m not sure how realistic that is.

    2. thats a particularly cynical view of Peter Sauber but in F1 anything goes! While it would make sense, I would have thought that securing finances through results would be easier than through marketing a foreign driver. I’d also wager that PDLR is faster than you might think! We shall see though…!

    3. Maybe Sauber needs the testing capabilities of De la Rosa. Kobayashi seems is going to be an excellent driver, but the team needs someone with the expertise to develop and improve the car, something that in my opinion Kobayashi is not capable of doing now.

    4. I would say its more to do with PDLR’s development ability.
      Sauber are way behind other teams development wise, they were accepted onto the grid months after other teams. With a lack of in season testing, having PDLR running around will help them develop their car to be competitive. It probably came down to who would provide better development, Heidfeld or PDLR. Peter Sauber has worked with Hedifeld for a long time, he obviously thinks PDLR can offer more to the team development wise than Heidfeld (who is a quicker driver).

      Either that or PDLR is bringing money to the table and Heidfeld was not.

      1. Maybe a combo or money and devlopment skills? PDL was at Mclaren too and they know how to develop a car so that knowledge and being around that environment for many years will certainly be a boost.
        Anyway Nick’s so quiet maybe he has always been looking elsewhere like to Renault? Just a possibility.

      2. Either that or PDLR is bringing money to the table and Heidfeld was not.

        I think it was Joe Saward who was wrote recently about Heidfeld wanting a relatively large amount of pay, and not bringing any money with him. Whatever else there may be, I think money was the deciding factor.

        1. I hope Pedro will bring his experience o build a strong car for Sauber.

    5. I don’t agree. Pedro de la Rosa may be one of the drivers who has more experience. If you believe that Pedro is goning to drive for Sauber in order to make his partner a better driver, you may be confused. Pedro is a hard worker, he’s always very stubborn and I’m sure that Kobayashi will have troubles with him because Pedro will be fast on the track.
      I´m sad because Pedro worked as a commentator for a Spanish TV channel called “La Sexta”, he made the broadcast very interesting because he used to explain some aspects about F1 that couldn’t be understood by the general public.
      I wish him the best for the next season.

  7. Awesome!

    Two on my favourite drivers in one team next year.

  8. the Sri Lankan
    19th January 2010, 12:05

    Keith, Do you know if kobayashi will be bringing Panasonic sponsorship to sauber or if panasonic will endup in F1 or not? im pretty convinced that they arent done with F1 like Toyota

  9. Fantastic! PDLR has always been one of my favourite drivers. Pretty strong line up for Sauber.

  10. He is completely useless driver. Now Peter Suaber has no option but to take pay drivers like Rosa and Kobayashi.

    1. Sorry friend I don’t think he is useless.But I do agree that Nick could have been a better choice.

    2. Mmmm…. wrong. PDLR has some sponsors, but definitely is not a pay driver. I think his experience in developing cars is the value Sauber was looking for.
      Maybe is not the quickest driver, but calling him “useless” is a little bit excessive.

  11. I am a surprised by this announcement as it was only a few days ago when it is was said de la Rosa would be the first to test the new McLaren in February and so it looked like another year as a test driver, I suppose Gary Paffett will be the first to take the MP4-25 for spin now.

    The rumours for the other Sauber seat seemed to be first Heidfeld and then recently Fisichella. While I am glad de la Rosa has secured a race seat I feel Heidfeld would have been a better option if he were available as well, but as has already been suggested he may have been more expensive.

  12. just wondering what the average age of the grid is and how it evolved over the years.

  13. Is no one apart from me wondering that perhaps, Sauber are now going with Merecedez engines and not Ferrari’s. Fisichella was in frame for the drive right up till the last moment.

    My guess is Sauber chose between Mercedez + Pedro and Ferrari + Fisichella. Seems like a good decision.

    But haven’t Merecedez reached the maximum limit of teams that cane be served? Four?

    1. Red Bull have already tried for a Merc engine but have been vetoed by McLaren.

  14. Odd choice, I wouldn’t have picked him over Heidfeld or Klien, but I don’t own an F1 team so what do I know :-P

    Just hope Nick gets a drive somewhere else, it’d be a travesty if he doesn’t :(

  15. Repsol & maybe Telefonica money talking here….. the car will end up looking like a Racing Engineering GP2 car :(

    1. Nonsense.

      If those companies wanted to invest money in F1 they would go to Campos’ team, not to a driver.

      Universia has confirmed they are sponsoring Pedro not Sauber-BMW.

  16. Paul di Resta for his old seat at McLaren, to keep it all British!!!

  17. My first thought I would not have taken on a driver like de la Rosa , simply because he could not win races even in a McLaren , he is hardly going to do it with Sauber , but with limited testing , I can see they will look at him to help develop their car , so maybe not a bad move there.

  18. I have always liked de la Rosa and I hope he goes well this season.

  19. Sauber is probably trying to stir things up a bit.
    Keeping Heidfeld would’ve been just more of the same. You have to keep the team from getting stuck in a rut.

    Spanish companies have shown to be keen on sponsoring F1 teams and Pedro de la Rosa will help with that even he himself doesn’t bring in money to the team.

    In either case it’s good to see that Sauber didn’t have to take on a heavy duty pay driver, which for me indicates that they have their budget in place and might even have a decent season.

  20. Pedro deserve this,he is probably one of the best test driver of the decade.But Sauber is taking a risk of none of their drivers have too much experience,especially for Pedro who last races in F1 back in 06.

  21. It’s a bad decision and de la Rosa will fail to impress. He must be bringing money to the team. He had his chance the year he deputised for Montoya and had the opportunity to actually win a GP for McLaren that season and couldnt get the job done. He is a very good tester and development driver, but so is Heidfeld. De la Rosa deserves a place in F1 but on the development side only. Politics are at play here. F1 business as usual. Kind of disapointing.

    1. Kimi couldn’t win with that McLaren either, it was a dog… I always thought Pedro did fairly well under the circumstances (and in Bahrain 2005 he was brilliantly entertaining) considering he hadn’t been racing for a few seasons.

      Heidfeld would have been faster yes, but he would probably have only stayed there for a year and then tried to move on to a better team. DLR will give a decent amount of commitment (and possibly sponsors) to Sauber while passing off his experience to Kobayashi.

  22. Alex Wurz once described PDR as the most shrewd f1 driver he ever met while both were at McLaren. He was always stabbing him in the back just to have his way. That explains why he stayed so long with McLaren. And evidently he was involved in the spy-gate saga :(

    I dont like such people actually …… my 2c

  23. Roger Carballo AKA Archtrion
    19th January 2010, 15:46

    Ok, here is my bet. PDR will be way quicker than that japo guy. You know? He was a Nippon formula champion, so he knows how to crush that japan way of drive…. :-) Seriously. He will beat Kobayashi hands down. Maybe next year, with more experience in his bag, Koba can be a truly rival.

    My bet.

  24. Diego Medeiros
    19th January 2010, 16:43

    I’m really disappointed with Sauber about his choice. I guess that the best option would Nick Heidfeld, or, maybe Fisichella. De La Rosa did nothing impressive on his career on F1. I believe he will be the new “Luca Badoer”.

    1. Luca Badoer never made a 2nd place in race,or even 5th,Pedro De la Rosa yes,this is the little diference my friend,.

      PD:Also made a 6th place “with Arrows” in her first race in F1.


  25. I like this choice. Maybe Fisichella would have been a better choice, if they are going with Ferrari engines, but I like the idea of giving PDLR the opportunity. Even though Heidfeld may have been faster, he has become too safe a driver. Many times I have seen him not make a move at opportune times.

    I think the Sauber team will standout team this year, so it will be interesting to see how this selection allows that to unfold. Interesting 2010.

  26. Pedro!!!! Pedro the best!!

    1. Hello :D January 19, 2010 at 5:35 pm
      Pedro!!!! Pedro the best!!

      In what exactly? In testing?

  27. Oh…final thought, and I think someone previously mentioned this. I would guess the good news is that now its Heidfeld to USF1?!! Yippee!!!

  28. now that my two fave drivers are in the same team, i am now officially a Sauber supporter!

  29. Pedro never had the chance to show his potential, so this is his last hurrah. The strategy of bringing in a driver with vast testing and setup experience to team with a 2 race rookie is necessary and pragmatic. The Swiss are nothing if not efficient and practical.

    I expect Kobayashi to use Pedro’s setups and then consistently outperform him.

  30. We’ve been told some weeks ago, PDLR was dealing with Campos/meta and they didn’t reach an agreement because Pedro was bringing no one sponsorship with him.

    But now, universia is sponsoring him, and sounds not quite improbale; B Santander was behind universia sponsoring Alonso when he was in Renault, so maybe B Santander has moved that budget to Pedro.

    Anyway, seems to me Sauber it’s just looking for a test driver to develope the car… And who knows if some good McLaren’s Technical info!!

  31. “Peter Sauber expects de la Rosa’s experience to aid Kobayashi, who has made jsut two F1 starts:”

    Typo in “just” Keith.

    I think this is a solid pickup for both sides. Pedro gets a ride that I really think will compete for points, and Sauber gets a driver that is very capable of driving an F1 car.

    1. Fixed it now thanks.

    2. i agree. same way of thinking of sir frank williams, with barrichello and hulkenberg.

  32. Congrats Pedro, it seems that the testing ban has made him want to go racing again!

    hey Nick, i hope you have something that we dont know about because the options are running out

  33. will he still be testing the new McLaren then?

  34. ……”His years of experience will make him an excellent benchmark for Kobayashi. But you could have said the same about Nick Heidfeld, and in many ways it’s a surprise to see de la Rosa get the seat instead of the German, who has driven for the team in six seasons of F1″…..

    Lets not forget that Sauber had previously sacked Nick Heidfeld.

  35. Wow, didn’t see that coming ! I thought Quick Nick was a shoo in for the seat. I hope he gets a drive somewhere else, as I would be disappointed not to see him in F1 this year.

    Not entirely sold on PDLR. I can credit that he is a great tester & good for car set up, but racing? Not sure about that. Wouldn’t it have been better then to have him as the tester?

  36. He WILL be the tester, and be available with hopefully insightful feedback all season long on how to improve the car. Maybe another driver could generate more points, but if also brings needed cash it will be a win-win for the team.

  37. “Dependable” test driver? He was a sensation for McLaren. Great Sauber decision.

  38. BMW Sauber? Isnt it just Sauber now?
    Now, what will Heidfeld do next year, USf1 maybe?
    Peter Windsor used to rate him high when he was a journalist.

  39. Go Pedro, go.

  40. Mystery solved, Santander are sponsoring him.

    De LaRosa is by no means a bad pick for an experienced/rookie partnership, and he brings a lot of McLaren and Ferrari information ^H^H^H^H errrr… “development experience” with him. I’d expect him to do a good job in the races, and do wonders for Sauber with development and developing Kobayashi. Certainly a much better pick than Badoer was.

    As has been pointed out above, it’s amazing how few brits are on the grid given how they dominate the actual team landscape – but British companies don’t seem to want to sponsor any sportsman who’s not already winning. It falls to European companies to really push young drivers and support a range of drivers. Anthony Davidson must be sick right now.

  41. forza fisico, go get some seat in 2010,de la rosa has no shame to grab what fisi should be

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