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Ferrari test role counted against Fisichella, admits Sauber

Sauber team owner Peter Sauber has explained just what it was that earned Pedro de la Rosa the second seat alongside Kamui Kobayashi at Hinwil in F1 2010 over rivals Giancarlo Fisichella and Nick Heidfeld...
Peter Sauber has acknowledged that both Giancarlo Fisichella and Nick Heidfeld were strong candidates for the second F1 2010 seat at his eponymously-named operation that ultimately went the way of Pedro de la Rosa – but he revealed that the former's Ferrari testing duties and the latter's familiarity counted against the pair.

About a week prior to de la Rosa's official confirmation alongside star 2009 debutant Kamui Kobayashi at Hinwil for the forthcoming campaign, it was widely-believed that the Spaniard was in competition with the two former Sauber drivers for the berth – and the Barcelona native's subsequent recruitment was greeted with some cynicism by the media, given that not only has he not actively competed in the top flight since 2006, but even when he did race, he was generally not regarded as highly as either Fisichella or Heidfeld.

Money, the sceptics have argued, must have secured the 38-year-old long-time McLaren-Mercedes test driver and Zurich resident the position – and leading Spanish bank Santander has since admitted that it is financially backing the signing [see separate story – click here] – but there were other considerations that ultimately played in his favour and played Fisichella and Heidfeld out of the reckoning, Sauber confirms.

“We were not a B-team, but there would have been a certain dependency,” the 66-year-old Swiss businessman told Motorsport Aktuell, alluding to the pressure being applied on him by engine-supplier Ferrari to employ the Scuderia's test driver Fisichella, who partnered Felipe Massa at Sauber back in 2004. “If something went wrong with one of the race drivers, Fisichella would have been sitting in the Ferrari – that would have been very bad for us.

“Nick was with us for seven years, [but] I wanted to make a new start, and that would not have worked out with him.”

After being snubbed by Sauber, McLaren and Mercedes Grand Prix, Heidfeld now looks increasingly likely to be appointed as reserve driver by one of the latter two outfits, unless the 32-year-old proves successful in securing the vacant berth at Renault F1 alongside ex-BMW team-mate Robert Kubica.

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Peter Sauber (SUI), Malaysian F1 Grand Prix, Sepang, Kuala Lumpar, 21st-23rd, March 2008
Antonio Giovinazzi - Sauber F1 Team
McLaren - Honda MCL32
Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren MCL32 F1 launch, [Credit: McLaren]
McLaren MCL32, McLaren-Honda, [Credit: McLaren]
Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Scuderia Ferrari SF70H
Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Scuderia Ferrari SF70H
Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Scuderia Ferrari SF70H
Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Scuderia Ferrari SF70H
Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Scuderia Ferrari SF70H
Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Scuderia Ferrari SF70H
Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Scuderia Ferrari SF70H
Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Scuderia Ferrari SF70H
Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Scuderia Ferrari SF70H
Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Scuderia Ferrari SF70H
Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Scuderia Ferrari SF70H
Fernando Alonso - McLaren MCL32
McLaren MCL32

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rerew - Unregistered

January 28, 2010 1:50 PM

I thought banks were supposed to be in dire straights, in these times of economical and financial crisis. As it seems, those friendly chaps at Santander must be swimming in money, they've managed to buy out not only Ferrari but also Sauber. Interesting.


January 28, 2010 11:24 AM

Hmmmmm. Not sure I understand his reasoning for not taking Fisi or Heidfeld. If you want a good experienced driver to partner Koba and have two available, why go for an also-ran who hasn't raced in F1 for so long? de la Rosa must have had far more money with him than we all thought. Good luck to him though, especially with Koba as his team mate. He could well be trailing in Koba's dust if he doesn't get back in the groove ASAP.

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