Pedro de la Rosa believes that he has made the correct choice of team with which to make his Formula One comeback, eight years after his last full-time ride in the top flight.

The Spaniard had seen his F1 race career cut short after being benched by Jaguar Racing in 2002, but established himself as one of the premier test and development drivers by spending seven seasons backing up the likes of David Coulthard, Juan Montoya, Kimi Raikkonen and Lewis Hamilton at McLaren, last stepping into a competitive situation when the Colombian quit for NASCAR in 2006.

Not quite in Michael Schumacher's league when it came to age, de la Rosa managed to find a way back into a race seat when Peter Sauber - now divorced from the might of BMW - was looking for an experienced hand to partner rookie Kamui Kobayashi for 2010 and, armed with valuable Santander backing, will lead the Swiss squad into battle with the new C29, which began testing in Valencia this week.

Although he admitted to being both tired and in possession of a sore neck after his first day on track, the Spaniard claimed that he had had no problem adjusting to the demands of an F1 car after having had his testing time severely restricted by both the in-season ban and McLaren's early-season problems in 2009 - and reckoned that he was joining a team with potential despite the problems endured in its final year with BMW.

"During the first few laps, I was a bit nervous thinking about how long it will take to feel right in the car but, in a surprisingly short time, everything was back to normal," the veteran confirmed, "It was just a brief ride, but it also assured me that I've made the right decision to make a comeback with this great team. The car has been well born, and it was quite easy for me to drive, which is a very good sign when you step into a car for the first time.

"How fast we are, in comparison to our competitors, the future will show, but, from what I have experienced, the car is completely new and I am very impressed by the finished details. The folks back in Hinwil have done a fantastic job. It is a full new-spec car - there have been no compromises!"

Accepting that his time spent in the sport may well have been what initially attracted the interest of Sauber and others, de la Rosa also admitted that he had no desire to continue being a test and development driver without being able to reap the rewards for himself.

"The experiences I have gathered in the past with other teams, that is my biggest asset and that makes me very thankful to McLaren and the seven years I was able to spend with them," he noted, "Now, with my decision to race again, I think I have taken the right decision to capitalise on those years.

"There was some competition from other good and experienced drivers, and there was a stage when I thought that I would have no chance, but then the interest came back and here I am! I have to say that it was very rewarding initially knowing that Peter was considering me, and I somehow knew that an experienced driver would make sense in this team, in combination with a very young and quick driver.

"My objective really is to have fun - I am in the last years of my career and I want to have fun by driving an F1 car. I never wanted to retire without having raced again - that was a very important consideration for me - but, of course, once you are in, you want to do well. But I am not here to show off. Aside from the fun factor, I want to do a good job for the team and be proud of myself.

"The simple truth is that we don't care who is there [racing against me]. Young, old, beautiful, ugly - it doesn't matter. We just want to compete! That is the fundamental motivation behind every driver. Age, nowadays, is not really relevant. We have had years where youth was the flavour of the moment and, probably, we are now heading into a period where experience makes the difference. This really depends on the regulations and how much testing you have. As long as you take care of your physical fitness, age is rather unimportant.

"I think that it will take some time for all of us who are making a comeback after a few years [to get up to speed], but I don't see that fact as a big hurdle. It will probably take one or two months to get back up to speed and gain a full knowledge of what you are driving, but that's about it. It's all about giving yourself a little bit more time."

Belying his own comments, de la Rosa's comeback resulted in the second fastest time of day one at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo, but the Spaniard was not getting too excited about the C29's performance, aware that several teams were missing and that there would have been a lot of fluctuation in programmes between those that were present.

"The times don't mean anything compared to other teams because you don't know what the others are doing, but you can compare it against yourself, against your expectations and against past cars," he reasoned, "You compare basically against your database and that was the reason we were satisfied yesterday. From what the team knows about last year's car, when they came here in 2009, this ride was very positive.

"Obviously, we were trying different fuel loads - like everybody. Our focus was to get used to very heavy fuel loads because this is the unknown. When you go over 100 kilos, the car becomes very heavy and inert and that is something that no-one is used to, so we were exploring in that direction, trying to understand what it means to drive such a car and how it affects the tyres.

"The minimum weight of the car is not an issue anymore because you don't have KERS, and therefore you can play with the weight distribution as much as you can. On the other hand, as a driver, you have to learn to handle a very heavy car - and we have to learn to understand what changes are needed to get the car as quick as possible in a heavy configuration."


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