Sauber has confirmed that Pedro de la Rosa will partner Kamui Kobayashi at the former BMW operation in F1 2010, three years on from his last grand prix start and a year away from his 40th birthday – with the expectation that the Spaniard's wealth of experience will help to drive the team forward.
de la Rosa has had a chequered career in F1 since first joining the grid with Arrows back in 1999, with subsequent stints for Jaguar and McLaren-Mercedes prior to a long period spent as a test driver for the latter. Something of a 'super-sub' in recent years, the Swiss-domiciled Barcelona native was initially linked with F1 2010 newcomer Campos Meta 1, before his name entered the frame for the second Sauber cockpit – speculation that has now proven to be well-founded.
“Pedro has spent many years working for a top team at the highest technical level,” argued the Hinwil-based outfit's team principal 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 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.”
From 72 previous starts in the top flight, de la Rosa has tallied 29 points, one podium finish for McLaren in the 2006 Hungarian Grand Prix and a fastest lap in Bahrain a year earlier. At 39 when the 2010 campaign revs into life at Sakhir in Bahrain in mid-March, he is adamant that age shall not wither.
“I always firmly believed I would be given another chance as a team driver,” he stated. “Since the number of test drives were radically reduced, this was what I was working towards. I'm really excited about the season with Peter Sauber's team, which has been a solid fixture in Formula 1 ever since 1993.”
The announcement will be a blow to former Sauber ace and Ferrari test driver Giancarlo Fisichella, who had similarly been hoping to seal the deal to prolong his 15-year F1 career.