Pedro de la Rosa has reinforced the perception of Peter Sauber as a man of his word after revealing that he was in touch with the genial Swiss about a Formula One race return as long ago as last autumn.
Speaking in an interview with the official F1 website, de la Rosa confirmed that he had been in talks with several teams regarding a seat for 2010, with Sauber eventually coming through with a concrete offer in the past week. The Swiss team, which re-emerged from the exit of BMW's works team, was made to wait for confirmation that it would even be in the F1 fold this season, but de la Rosa reveals that Sauber never wavered in their negotiations.
"Peter was very straight with me right from the beginning," he noted, "I spoke with him for the first time when the team still did not have a grid slot [and] the first thing that Peter told me was that he'd secure a slot first and then call me. Peter always kept his word. He called me every time he had to and kept me informed about the team's process during the winter months. He was always very straightforward."
Long-time McLaren tester de la Rosa confirmed speculation that he been in talks with several teams regarding a seat for 2010, but admitted that not everyone was as committed as Sauber when it came to keeping him informed of progress.
"It has been a long winter for me - a very long winter," the Spaniard acknowledged, "Actually, it started during the summer when I was in discussions with several teams. To describe these last few months, I'd say it's been like a rollercoaster ride. There have been weeks where I was very close to securing a race drive, and other weeks when the whole scenario seemed to collapse. Finally, it worked out for me, [but] it has been a very intense few weeks of negotiations."
Despite having been in the running to join one of the four newcomers joining the field in 2010, de la Rosa admits that he is delighted to have been snapped up by an experienced outfit, where he will join rookie Kamui Kobayashi.
"I think that it is very important to be back racing in F1, but it is more important to be back racing with a competitive team like BMW Sauber," he confirmed, "I am well prepared but, more importantly, I am with a good and experienced team. So, I am extremely happy about the situation. There were a lot of other good and experienced drivers out there and that I think made Peter's decision quite difficult.
"I think my experience is a massive asset. You do not gain experience in a few months or in one year. It is over years that you gain experience and that is what I can bring to the team. I want to help my team-mate as well because he is quick, young and inexperienced. We need to be a very strong unit to exploit the team's great potential and I think that I can contribute to achieving that."