Pedro de la Rosa is confident that his return will not mirror that of another former racer consigned to the Formula One testing ranks when he takes to the track with BMW Sauber in 2010.
The Spaniard was linked with several teams, including several of the newcomers to the sport this year, before finally inking a deal with Peter Sauber's eponymous equipe
, and will break an eight-year lay-off from racing in the top flight when he joins the grid in Bahrain in March. The veteran will partner rookie Kamui Kobayashi in the Swiss team's line-up as Sauber looks to rebuild its entry on his experience.
"I am extremely happy about [the chance to return to racing]," the 38-year old told the official F1 website, "especially because I have been pushing for it for so many years.
"The reason I became a test driver was because I always wanted to go back racing. My motivation for testing was to keep on believing in myself and believing that this could happen, so I am extremely happy. I have learned a lot from working with a super team like McLaren Mercedes and, if I am here, it is thanks to them. They have helped me grow as a racing driver and I am a lot better now than when I joined the team back in 2003.
"I think the most important thing for a race driver is to feel like a race driver. The fact that I am back now means that I can feel like a race driver again. I can compete against other drivers and I can feel the adrenaline pumping through my system already. And that's the great thing about motor racing. It allows you to compete and that is why I am so happy to be back with such a competitive and underrated team as the BMW Sauber."
Fresh in de la Rosa's mind will be the disappointing return endured by Ferrari reserve Luca Badoer in 2009, when the Italian ended a ten-year break by qualifying at the back of the grid in each of his outings as replacement for the injured Felipe Massa, but de la Rosa is optimistic that not only will he be mixing it with his rivals, but also looking to add to his points tally.
"I would not be here if I did not think I still had what it takes," he insisted, "I have a huge amount of motivation. I am a hard worker and I think that is the most important thing at this level… to still have the motivation and hunger to attack, and to work everyday as if it was the last day.
"How good will I be? We will see! I believe I can be a lot better than people expect and let's take it from there. It is a long winter. We have four weeks of great testing ahead and I will gradually get back to speed.
"But let's be realistic. I need to spend more time with the team and with the people. I need to learn more about the 2010 car, and we'll need to wait until we start testing in February to answer this question. This is my first day at work! We need to set goals that are achievable. However, I would be disappointed if we were not in a position to fight for points on a regular basis."