Best Chance Yet for de la Rosa

Pedro de la Rosa could look back on Sunday's Bahrain Grand Prix as the highlight of his Formula One career

Best Chance Yet for de la Rosa

The Spanish reserve driver, a stand-in for injured Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya at McLaren, has never before raced such a competitive car for such a top team and never expected to either.

In his four seasons with now defunct Arrows and Jaguar, the 34-year-old finished no higher than fifth -- at Monza in 2001 with Jaguar.

"For sure I will be in the best car of my career. After that it's up to me and up to the team what we can do this weekend," he said at the circuit on Thursday.

The odds are against him, driving at a circuit that was no more than a camel farm in the desert when he last raced in 2002.

New engine rules also mean that he will have few laps to get to grips with the layout before Saturday's first one-lap qualifying. But he will give it his best shot.

"If I had to choose, obviously I would choose another circuit. But I am so lucky already to be here so let's forget about that," said de la Rosa. "I will learn the track as quickly as I can."

There is always a chance, however small, that Sunday's race could even make history as the first with two Spaniards on the front row. Renault's Fernando Alonso, winner in Malaysia and Championship leader, is a favourite to triumph in the third round of the season.

"In Formula One, you never know," said de la Rosa, told by team bosses only on Wednesday that he would be driving after Montoya fell and suffered a hairline fracture of his shoulder at the weekend.

Officially that injury was sustained while playing tennis, although paddock rumours, denied by the team, suggested a motocross bike might have been involved.

De la Rosa, driver of McLaren's third car in Friday practice, got the nod because the team's Austrian reserve Alexander Wurz could not fit comfortably into the 2005 car and has so far not driven it. The Spaniard felt he had nothing to lose.

"At the moment I'm not too worried," he said. "I honestly don't really have a clue how I will react to being surrounded by cars again. For two years I've been doing thousands of kilometres, but alone.

"I will just take it as it happens. I know I am going to be limited in my Friday mileage, not knowing the track, I know that qualifying will be a little bit more difficult," he said.

"But at the end of the day I said to myself: 'Don't look at these little things, look at the big picture. You are going to be driving a McLaren.

"I see it as a one-off," he added. "I have absolutely nothing to show or any pressure to perform. I'm relaxed."

shares
comments
Alonso Wrestles with Celebrity Status
Previous article

Alonso Wrestles with Celebrity Status

Next article

Analysis: Too Tall a Story for Wurz

Analysis: Too Tall a Story for Wurz
Load comments
The lessons F1 can take from the Masi "souk" deal criticisms Plus

The lessons F1 can take from the Masi "souk" deal criticisms

As Formula 1 heads to its Abu Dhabi season finale, the FIA and race director Michael Masi are under increased scrutiny, with radio messages broadcast during last weekend's race prompting discussion and controversy. But what can they learn from the Saudi Arabia debacle?

Why thrilling Jeddah F1 circuit needs to be safer Plus

Why thrilling Jeddah F1 circuit needs to be safer

OPINION: Saudi Arabia's new F1 circuit delivered a memorable first event, although not necessarily for all the right reasons. In the wake of the chaotic race, drivers voiced their concerns about the track but small changes could make significant improvements ahead of a return in four months

The long-term F1 vision causing Haas’s short-term pain Plus

The long-term F1 vision causing Haas’s short-term pain

From ranking as one of the most impressive new teams to join the Formula 1 grid, Haas’s stock has plummeted along with its on-track performances over the past two seasons. Everything now hangs on whether its reforged alliance with Ferrari can deliver a better car – and whether its rookie drivers can set aside their quarrels. OLEG KARPOV asks if any of these goals are achievable…

Formula 1
Dec 8, 2021
The line Verstappen finally crossed in F1's first Jeddah race Plus

The line Verstappen finally crossed in F1's first Jeddah race

OPINION: Max Verstappen has made the 2021 Formula 1 championship. He’s taken the fight to the all-conquering Mercedes squad and its dominant champion, produced driving displays few can match. But he’s been on a controversial course too, and finally crossed a particular line in Jeddah

Formula 1
Dec 7, 2021
Saudi Arabian Grand Prix Driver Ratings Plus

Saudi Arabian Grand Prix Driver Ratings

An ill-tempered Saudi Grand Prix made Formula 1 more soap opera than sporting spectacle at times, but there were some strong performances up and down the field on the world championship's first visit to Jeddah

Formula 1
Dec 6, 2021
How the Jeddah F1 race became a one-sitting Netflix drama series Plus

How the Jeddah F1 race became a one-sitting Netflix drama series

The inaugural Saudi Arabian Grand Prix was a race packed full of incident as Formula 1 2021's title contenders repeatedly clashed on track. Lewis Hamilton won out over Max Verstappen to level the scores heading into next weekend's Abu Dhabi finale, as Jeddah turned F1 into a drama series

Formula 1
Dec 6, 2021
The impressive attitude that earned Albon his second F1 chance Plus

The impressive attitude that earned Albon his second F1 chance

Dropped by Red Bull last season, Alexander Albon has fought back into a Formula 1 seat with Williams. ALEX KALINAUCKAS explains what Albon has done to earn the place soon to be vacated by the highly rated George Russell

Formula 1
Dec 5, 2021
How Formula E factors could negate Red Bull's Jeddah practice gap to Mercedes Plus

How Formula E factors could negate Red Bull's Jeddah practice gap to Mercedes

Mercedes led the way in practice for Formula 1’s first race in Jeddah, where Red Bull was off the pace on both single-lap and long runs. But, if Max Verstappen can reverse the results on Saturday, factors familiar in motorsport’s main electric single-seater category could be decisive in another close battle with Lewis Hamilton

Formula 1
Dec 3, 2021