Pedro de la Rosa has refused to comment on mounting speculation that he is being considered for a return to Formula 1 with Force India in 2009 – even if he has admitted that 'what [he] really wants to do is to race'.
The Spaniard competed in 72 grands prix for Arrows, Jaguar and McLaren-Mercedes from 1999 to 2006, with a best finish for the latter in the 2006 Hungarian Grand Prix at Budapest, when he took the chequered flag as runner-up to race-winner Jenson Button.
Since then de la Rosa has not raced, but has remained in the F1 paddock as the principal test driver for the Woking-based outfit. Should the rumour mill prove to be correct, he could be set to return to the starting grid next season.
Force India's recent tie-up with McLaren [see separate story – click here
] has led to suggestions that current DTM Vice-Champion and long-time Mercedes-Benz protégé Paul di Resta may be in-line to replace Adrian Sutil and make his F1 debut at the small Silverstone-based squad in 2009, but Spanish newspapers are claiming it is de la Rosa who is more likely to get the gig, possibly – according to Diario AS
– dovetailing his racing duties with a continued testing role for the Silver Arrows.
Force India chairman and managing director Dr Vijay Mallya has revealed that he would be 'hard-pressed to ignore' the advice of McLaren in terms of drivers, and has refused to confirm whether either Sutil or 2008 team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella will be retained.
Whilst confessing his desire to return to action, de la Rosa insisted that for now his priority is to assist with the development of the new McLaren-Mercedes MP4-24.
“Of course, like all drivers, what I really want to do is to race,” the 37-year-old told Spanish publication Sport
, “[but] at the moment there is nothing to say.”