Two years on from his last grand prix and at an age where most drivers are contemplating retirement rather than racing, Pedro de la Rosa has admitted that his heart remains firmly set on a return to active competition in Formula 1.

The McLaren-Mercedes test driver has not driven full-time in the top flight since his last campaign with Jaguar back in 2002, and in the intervening six years has participated only in a one-off race for the Silver Arrows in Bahrain in 2005 - finishing fifth at the end of an entertaining performance - and eight further outings in place of Juan-Pablo Montoya at the end of the following season.

Lewis Hamilton revealed that de la Rosa had been excited at the prospect of possibly racing in front of his home fans in the European Grand Prix in Valencia last weekend should the Briton have been forced to pull out with 'flu and neck pains - something that ultimately failed to materialise - and the man himself confesses that he still yearns for a return one day, even if he doesn't know what 2009 holds in-store for him yet.

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"This year we have had two grands prix in Spain, so for me it is terrible," the 37-year-old reflected in an interview with "I have to just think about the next test, the next time I will get into the car - that's the only thing that motivates me.

"Hamilton is doing a good job and I am happy about that because it means I must be doing my job well too - but it is only a consolation. Let me be very clear that my only aim is to be racing again, and as long as there is hope, I will continue to try.

"Obviously I don't just come to the races to commentate for television or watch how my team is doing. I know it is very difficult, but I still have small hopes that I can be racing again."